Traveling the pioneer trails
|It was the fording of creeks and streams. The crossing of rivers that flowed to the Atlantic by ferry barge, and the interaction with Indians, and other travelers along the way. Finally, the road took them into the port city of Savannah Georgia. Once there Sean treated his bride to a week in one of the finer inns for a, well earned, rest from the road. On the second night as they settled in their room Coleen slid her arms around her new husband's neck and whispered|
"Go find me a pine bough Laddy, to hang above our bed. Tis a bit romantical I'm feeling tonight."
Sean left her standing there while he left to find the nearest pine sapling. A week of wagon repairs, the purchasing of fresh supplies and provender for their animals and the young couple were off to the west toward the Alabama territory. With him Sean carried a map showing their section of land in relation to the nearest town.
By the time the creaking ox cart rolled on to their parcel of land Coleen was already two months heavy with their first child. They had crossed the stream that crossed their new land and found the grassy hill side above. There at the crest stood a great spreading tree that reminded Coleen of the beautiful magnolias of Savannah. Yet this tree was different, exotic in a strange way.
"Please, Sean, let us build our cabin near that beautiful tree yonder. It'll give us good shade from the summer heat."
Coleen was from old, green isle and she was a bit fey about the superstitions of the Irish and their forest sprites and tree spirits. Some how she felt that exotic tree was special. What neither of them new was that the local Indians new about that tree, and that it once dwelled in the bottoms near the creek, and when the fire swept along the creek the tree somehow moved and was now residing high on the grassy hill far from the thick forest. They called it a spirit tree as well.
"Tis a good idea Lass. The woods are only fifty yards or so away, So the oxen and I can snake them over easy enough."
They camped that cold February night beneath the canvas tent fastened to the cart, while the cattle grazed on the thick dry grass on the open hill. Day light next morning found Sean felling trees and snaking logs to the cabin sight they had chosen and cleared. Within a month they had stacked their cabin, roofed it with hand split shingles and built a stick and mud chimney. Once coated with red clay from the creek banks inside and out, Sean built a small fire inside the hearth to cure and smoke the stack. That was when Trhee woke up. The wild was just right to send smoke among his branches and sent alarm signals to his slumbering brain. He was preparing to yank his deeply set roots from the water table beneath when he realized he was not alone.
From out of the dead wood structure below his branches his eyenuts spied a creature of deep forest green floating along the ground. The green garment looked like a spreading fir tree with two bare branches and a bulbous flaming red bloom sprouting from the top. But this creature spoke. The voice vibrated the air around him yet he heard the same voice inside like when he spoke to others of his kind. Trhee had traveled the worlds forest looking for sentient creatures like himself. This was not like himself, but it warmed his heart to hear this creature broadcast. He decided to call the creature Little Fir, because suddenly its mate came from the dead wood structure dressed in color of an oak tree, so he decided to call it Big Oak only because it was larger than Little Fir. They each took a bucket and ambulated down the hill to the creek below. Taking this all in Trhee realized that the creatures had their fire under control for it did not spread. This was enough to let him know that these were sentient creature for sure because they could control fire. Something none of his kind could do. All they could do when fire got out was to flee. This in itself was enough to keep Trhee around to study them.
Weeks later a sudden day time storm came up and lightning struck a nearby snag and started a fire. A dead branch fell to the ground and the dry grass began to burn toward the cabin and himself. The two creatures stopped their chores and took brush brooms and began to beat out the flames creeping toward the cabin. They stopped the fire from burning the dead structure, but it was coming toward him. Trhee was preparing to pull up roots and lift away when Little Fir grabbed a bucket and wet the ground him giving him a drink then beat out the flames still coming his way. When all was safe, and the fire was gone Little Fir came and threw her branches about his trunk. Trhee could feel the emotion emanating from the female. She loved him and would even protect him from the ravages of fire.
For the first time Trhee revealed himself to the creatures. He lowered a couple of small lower limbs and gently embraced Little Fir. Then released. Big Oak went ridged with fear.
"Sean, Sean, I knew it. I have felt from the beginning that this tree is a fey tree like they spoke of in the green isle.
Tis a magic tree that is alive and senses us."
"Lass," said Sean with wonder, "Tis a strange thing we've seen today. I think the tree likes us a bit."
That day Trhee adopted the sentient creatures as his own sibling saplings. They would be his family on this strange world. Twas not long before Little Fir sprouted little seedlings and Trhee adopted them as well. As the seasons rolled on more family came, and Big Oak took rope and wood and hung a swing from his lower branches. Trhee quietly observed and saw they used the swing to entertain the largest of the little saplings. When they got large enough to climb into the seat of the swing and no one was looking Trhee gently moved that branch back and forth to help swing the little ones.
Big Oak and Little Fir had cleared the rich bottom land across the creek down the grassy hill. He and the two oxen were breaking the land for a corn crop, and they were at the far end of the field when the Indians came. The little ones were playing about his trunk in the shade when Little Fir shrieked her warning. Six there were coming from the thick forest toward the house. Little Fir came to the cabin door and boomed a fire stick at them. One fell, the rest came on. First Trhee dropped tendrils down and quickly wrapped the little ones and swept them high into his branches and held them safe. Then, when the savages crossed beneath his shade Trhee dropped powerful limbs down and grabbed the angry things. As Little Fir cried in anguish and looked on and Big Oak hurried with all his strength Trhee held the screaming things high and squeezed. The screaming stopped as their bones broke like rotten wood. Trhee then dropped the broken creatures to the ground. None moved. Little Fir ran beneath Trhee's branches and held her limbs high and cried out. Big Oak rushed to her side looking at the broken Indians. He held his mate close and when Trhee sensed that all was safe, gently let the children down into their parent's arms. A great bond of trust evolved between Trhee and the humans from that day forth.
The war party's kin found their broken warriors at the edge of the forest, and never ventured near the cabin and spirit tree again. The crops were in the crib, hay was in the loft for winter feed, and it was time to buy winter ware for his children. He would have to make the trip to the nearest town to procure shoes for his growing family. In his pocket he had his last five-dollar gold piece. Not much bigger than a dime, it slipped from his pocket and fell to the soft ground near the trunk of the great tree. Trhee sensed the heavy mineral for the dense metal was what made up Trhee's nervous system. A tiny root sprouted from the ground and pulled the disk below the surface. Tiny roots gathered about the coin and deposited a bit of acid here and there to slowly dissolve the precious resource. It was Big Oak that shut down the process, for next morning he was searching the soil around Trhee's trunk that caused Trhee to tune in to Sean's broadcast. He was alarmed.
"Twas for the children's shoes I've been Savin' that last gold piece. I was to sell the milk cows calf in town and with the gold piece I'd have enough for everyone's winter shoes."
Trhee had be around the family long enough to translate their language to thought pictures he could understand, and the gold piece was not just precious to Big Oak. It was necessary for the preservation of his thicket. So, even as Sean searched the ground Trhee pushed the coin back to the surface. Soon Sean's eyes caught the golden luster the cried with joy as he scooped it up. Next morning the family left by ox cart for town and the same day Trhee left as well.
Trhee had traveled the world. He had settled by streams high in the western mountains and absorbed gold from the stream beds to grow his nervous system as he grew in size. Trhee knew where to go so he lifted into the west and flew high and fast till he came to the clear mountain streams with long gravel beds that held the nuggets in the cracks and crevices below. He went to work. Trhee didn't really need the gold that much for himself for he was fully developed in power, size and strength. So, he stored the processed gold in tubers of about one ounce each until he had a bushel or more of the golden tubers in the small roots about his massive trunk.
Sean's family was at a loss as to where their magic tree had gone. One day they had gone to town to sell a calf and buy winter shoes and supplies and that evening when they arrived home for evening chores their lovely protective tree had vanished from the flower bed Coleen had built about its trunk.