The trees in the Little Wood are bored, so start to watch television.
The Great Big Television Adventure.
In the summer the Little Wood was a very busy place.. The plants grew as hard as they could, either reaching up to the sky trying to be the tallest, or pushing out flowers to show off to the bees. The bees and wasps buzzed around looking for sugar and honey and other sweet things to take home for tea. The spiders held competitions to see who could spin the prettiest and biggest cobwebs. The ants liked to hold wars with each other, and the trees would see them building up their nests and then raiding other ant armies and fighting huge battles. All the children would come to visit and play games and eat picnics with their families, so the sunny days were noisy with plenty for all the trees to do and see.
The trees loved summertime, and would try to join in the children's games. The Twisty Willow Tree liked to hide balls in amongst his gnarled up roots, and then pop them out at the children to surprise them. The Little Apple Tree was good at catching the kites. Her branches grew low to the ground making her easy to climb so the children or their grown-ups could climb up and bring the kites down safely. The Tall Fir Tree was the champion balloon popper. Some of the other trees said he was being a misery and shouldn't do it, but he just tossed his branches a little higher and pointed to the louder children. They would bring their balloons to him and laugh when they popped with a loud bang. The Old Oak Tree liked to sit on top of his little hill and watch them all playing. He had been in the Little Wood longer than any of the other trees, and knew summer was just one part of the year. He was pleased the younger trees enjoyed the playtime in the summer, but every year he worried about what they would find to do in the winter.
Sure enough, summer came and went and autumn moved in. The first sign was when the apples ripened on the Little Apple Tree and started to fall onto the grass below. People came to gather up the apples and take them home to make sweet jelly. The Horse Chestnut Tree would shake down her prickly fruits in the wilder winds, and some more children came to throw balls and sticks into her branches. They took away her shiny brown conkers to play with in the far off school yard. Some of the trees started to lose their leaves and stood bare in the chilly wind. Shivering as the temperature grew colder, and the rains fell day after day.
Just as the Old Oak Tree had feared, the trees grew bored. Nobody was visiting them now, so they couldn't join in games, or watch the people playing below them. Instead if any people came by, they were all wrapped up against the cold and hurried by, eager to get back to their own warm homes. Most of the animals were sheltering from the storms, snug in their nests as they waited for spring.
The Old Oak Tree dug his roots deep into the earth and listened to the other trees muttering down in the dark dirt. This happened every year and every year he could not think of a way to make his friends happy. Last summer he had spent more time worrying about this problem than on enjoying the sunshine, and as a result he had hardly grown at all. This was not good for him. What could he do about it? He decided it was time for all the trees to help him try to find an answer to the problem, so he sent out the call for a meeting.
How did he do this? you may wonder. After all how could trees travel to a meeting place, and when they got there, how would they speak to each other? After all trees don't have mouths to talk with, of ears to listen with either.
Ah, well I know something about trees you don't and I will tell you about it now. We have mouths and ears and noses and hands and feet, and these things are part of being people. Well trees have something else. They have roots, and those roots stretch really deep down into the earth. A long way down. Trees can use those roots to tell each other things. Sometimes it is really important things, like
“Newsflash- my leaves are being eaten by a new type of beetle!”
Then the other trees can fill their leaves with nasty yucky tasting stuff that the new beetles won't like. So the beetles have to go somewhere else for their tea. Other times they just use the roots to talk about the weather, or a new road, or anything that interests them. Sometimes however the senior trees can call for a meeting, and that is very important, and all the trees join in to find out why.
So when the Old Oak Tree called a meeting all the trees in the Little Wood listened in with all their roots.
“I have noticed that you are all unhappy in the winter and I have been trying to think of a way to cheer everyone up, but I can't think of anything. Has anyone got any ideas on how to make the trees happy in the winter?”
The other trees muttered between themselves. It was typical of the Old Oak Tree to worry about them, he had been here longer than any of them, and the trees liked the way he took care of them all. It was true they were all miserable in the winter, not from the cold, but because they were bored. But none of the trees could think of a single idea that would help.
Then a little voice spoke up. It was so little that the other trees could hardly hear it and the Old Oak Tree had to hush everybody so that the little voice could be heard through the earth.
“Do any of you remember me, I am the Little Fir Tree that the people came and dug up last winter. They came and dug me up and put my roots in a bucket so I could not speak to anyone else for a long while. Well at first I was sad, and very lonely. Then they took me inside their house and they hung all sorts of pretty things all over me. They were shiny and glittery and some of them smelled of cooking and cakes. On my very top branches they put a little angel, and she talked to me and explained that this was Christmas. She said the people do this every year in the winter. Well it was really fun, and warm and everyone looked at me and told me I was beautiful. But the best thing about it was the television. The people have a magic box called television, where all sorts of games and stories happen, and they like to watch television in the winter because it makes them happy.”
The other trees all started talking to themselves and asking each other about television. None of them had ever seen one although some of them had heard the people talking about it. The Old Oak Tree had to shout at everyone to hush, because no one could hear the Little Fir Tree. When it was quiet enough, he carried on.
“After a while they took me out of the house and looked after me in my bucket until spring came. I was glad because it was too hot for me indoors and I had begun to lose all my needles. When the earth was warm enough they planted me in their garden. Then I could hear everyone again and that made me very happy. I had been so lonely without you all.”
He stopped for a moment, silent, and all the other trees tried to imagine how it must have felt to be all alone with your roots in a bucket. They shuddered, it was too horrible to even think about, and all together sent a big hug of tree love from their roots to the Little Fir Tree. He let it wash over him and sighed, glad he was together with his family again.
Then he carried on,
“But the important thing is where they planted me. They have planted me close enough to their window that I can watch the television. My roots have grown a little under the house, so I can hear it too. So if you want I can share the television with you all.”
Well you can imagine what happened then. All the trees spoke together so no one could hear what any one said. There were so many questions that the Little Fir Tree could hardly think where to begin answering. In the end the Old Oak Tree had to take charge.
“Well Little Fir Tree, I think we should give it a try. Can you do it now?”
The Little Fir Tree answered,
“Oh no, they only have the television on in the evenings when it is dark outside. Tonight when they turn it on, I shall dig my roots deep, so you can all share it with me.”
That evening, all the trees spread out their roots and waited to see what would happen. Sure enough, the Little Fir Tree kept his word and shared the television with the Little Wood. First of all they watched the children's programmes. There were some stories for tiny children and then some plays for the older ones. Then there was the news, and the trees were amazed to hear of wars and battles in places they had never heard of. They learnt that there was going to be a new supermarket built in the Low Field and some of the trees who were settled close to there, talked to each other as they wondered what might happen to them when it was built. Then there was a quiz. It was about nature, and the older trees kept shouting out the answers. Sometimes the people got the answers wrong, and that shocked the trees.
“Fancy not knowing that oak tree seeds are called acorns!” the Old Oak Tree wondered aloud. Finally there was a big film. It was an adventure in the jungle and the trees watched, fascinated to see so many types of trees they had never seen before. When the people turned the television off the trees all agreed that it had been a great success.
“Well done Little Fir Tree”
said the Old Oak Tree,
“That was wonderful, can we do it again tomorrow?”
When the Little Fir Tree said yes, every tree in the wood cheered until he could feel his needles grow pink with embarrassment. He was glad he had spoken up and told the Little Wood about television.
The Old Oak Tree stood quietly and thought about the great television experiment. It had been a wonderful success and now the whole wood was buzzing about it. He had learnt many new things about people today and would watch again tomorrow.