On request...a story.
February 14, 2012
On request..... a story, while not true, yet could have been, maybe......and since this was written on Valentines Day ..a love story, sorta...
A tale often repeated in the shadows of teepees dotting the barren grassy plains when our people left their beloved forests. Whispered from one to the other for encouragement in difficult times and to keep alive the memories of the old ones. Back before the journey, countless moons ago, our people lived where the forests grew so thick and green that at times it was like night under the canopy of leaves. Here and there along the cool flowing rivers a clearing could be found. Gardens full of sweet yellow corn carefully tended. Wigwams filled with children playing. There were battles too and many warriors defended our homes. It was said that amongst our people there was one who shot his arrow straighter than anyone had ever seen and he never missed his mark. Many tales have been told of his bravery and I’m sure you have heard a few of those or will someday.
He had a keen eye and was as swift as a deer. His name was He Who Loves Trees, a name bestowed on him by his grandmother when she dreamt of a baby held by tall branches out of harm’s way. He Who Loves Trees grew up as most boys grow and learned many things about hunting and weapons but also learned skills like pottery upon which he painted trees to mark them as his own. He Who Loves Trees joined the men one day on a hunting trip where he had proved himself worthy by providing much food for his people as Winter was approaching. He would look at the woods as he walked and listen to the gentle whispers of leaves and bird songs. He Who Loves Trees knew that when one was given bounty from the forest to also repay and he would leave corn for the small woodland creatures. He always planted a little extra for them to enjoy.
He Who Loves Trees loved Autumn the most, almost as much as he loved Star In The Sky, a fair maiden who lived in a village across Old Grandfather River. He Who Loves Trees would often look longingly at Star In The Sky but while he feared no beast or man, he had respect for the river’s power and knew to reach her side he would have to somehow cross the white water. He worried that another brave might bring Star In The Sky gifts and win her father’s approval.
That Autumn, when the trees turned gold, He Who Loves Trees devised a plan. He would carve a boat from a fallen tree, drag it northward aided by the fallen leaves on the ground and with a long pole push it to the other shore as it rushed down river. He Who Loves Trees had seen just such a tree in the forest nearby and every day he worked on his project. He left room in his craft for a neatly sewn deerskin bag of treasures. A carved wooden bear, beaded moccasins with a raven design for the woman he loved , and for her father, Favored By Many Clouds, a briar pipe decorated with a carved oak leaf pattern and a beautiful pottery bowl whose exterior was painted with trees of all descriptions. All of which he had worked on until late hours of the night by firelight and then during the day he hollowed out his boat and removed the bark until it was smooth and ready for the river. He worked every day but without fail went to the river’s edge to gaze longingly at his future bride.
Now the leaves had departed from the tree tops and the chill winds started to blow. The day came when He Who Loves Trees was finally ready to start his river crossing. But this was a year when snow flew early and as he dragged his boat across the leaves, He Who Loves Trees noticed that the whiteness spread quickly over the land. Caution might have stopped an older, wiser man but He Who Loves Trees was determined to reach the side of Star In The Sky. On he traveled, his strength was increasingly sapped by the cold. The snow now grew thicker and swirled through the branches. He Who Loves Trees could no longer see the familiar paths and was lost. Not only lost but cold and hungry. He Who Loves Trees climbed up a large old oak and clung to its rough bark. Suddenly below he saw a large bear sniffing at his boat. Finding no food and not seeing He Who Loves Trees above him the bear wandered on. He Who Loves Trees thought of his Grandmother’s dream and was grateful.
Dusk crept into the Wintery forest and He Who Loves Trees decided to sleep under his boat. He found enough dried leaves under the old tree to keep his new home warm enough to survive the night. He turned the boat upside down and stuffed leaves along the bottom edges. While He Who Loves Trees slept something amazing happened outside. The woodland creatures who he had always provided corn for devised a plan of their own. Chipmunks, squirrels, birds of all kinds gathered as they do when no man watches. Chirping and tweeting they huddled and then moved to a place deep in the forest where Autumn’s berries still remained. The squirrels and chipmunks gnawed at the vine stems. Silently each of the creatures carried or flew with the vines and returned to where He Who Loves Trees slept. Then dropping the vines walked across the snow together to Grandfather River before scattering in all directions.
That morning He Who Loves Trees awoke under his boat and realized that lost and without food he would die in the forest. The only star he would have would be the ones over head in the sky when it was nightfall again and he would be no more. Star In The Sky would be married to another and soon forget the tall brave that gazed at her from the other riverbank. He Who Loves Trees’ eyes filled with tears but then he decided to at least enjoy the beauty of the trees while he was still alive even if that was only for a little while. So he removed the dried leaves from the bottom edge of his boat shelter and lifted it up.
Astonishment filled his heart as he saw not white but vine leaves still green and loaded with red berries. He ate and rejoiced over this bounty. He looked at the snow for the trail of his unknown benefactor when instead he saw tiny prints, hundreds of them, all leading off in the same direction. Hurriedly , with renewed strength and courage, He Who Loves Trees dragged his boat following their path. “ Grandfather River!” he gasped as he saw the cold white river before him. He looked for a sturdy long branch along the river’s edge and climbing in, he and his boat were rushing along on the rapids.
Using all his willpower he pushed his crude pole repeatedly into the river and after striking the bottom pushed towards the other shore. Determination and the thought of his Star In The Sky removed all fear of danger. Then he saw her village and with a great burst of resolve gave the last push with his pole and there he was on the other side. Hastening he ran with his precious bundle of gifts, eager to find Star In The Sky and Favored By Many Clouds.
When he arrived at their wigwam his heart sunk as he saw another brave with a deerskin bag opened on the ground in front of Favored By Many Clouds and Star In The Sky shyly standing behind her father. The interloper ,and now enemy of He Who Loves Trees was Paint By Number! Out of his bag, Paint By Number pulled out a moldy corn bread and a pair of what can only be called proto flip flops made of weasel skins for Star In The Sky and for her father Favored By Many Clouds, Paint By Numbers had a lumpy clay ashtray. Worst of all, on opossum hide, a painting of Pocahontas with paint so thin that one could see # 2,#3,#65 written on her face. At the sight of these gifts Star In The Sky started to giggle. In sheer horror of the deemed insult to his family, Favored by Many Clouds tossed the gifts at Paint By Number’s head and yelled “You won’t get any Star from me! Nor my favor!” He Who Loves Trees took his pole and tossed it at Paint By Number’s backside and made him run even faster. He Who Loves Trees then showed Star In the Sky and Favored By Clouds the gifts he had brought plus the fine boat he had carved. Needless to say , he got both Star In Sky as his wife, became a favorite son-in-law and had many children who left us a legacy of arts and crafts.