A sapling in a forest grows near its grandfather
In Its Grandfather's Shadow
Word Count: 653
The morning sunrise announced its coming before peeking over the horizon, and all manner of life welcomed the coming spring thaw. The layer of deep snow was slowly disappearing as each day brought with it warming temperatures. Squirrels popped their heads out of their warm sanctuaries in trees to greet the new day. The soft crunching of snow alerted small animals of the deer seeking fresh leaves and twigs for their breakfasts.
The little sapling was too short, yet, to be noticed by the hungry deer. Only the very tip of the sapling's new growth broke through the surface of the snowfall, but it wouldn't be long before it, too, became breakfast.
Only a few feet away stood the sapling's grandfather, a mighty spruce tree, reaching up into the clouds, the sapling imagined. Its mother, too, was nearby, almost as tall and just as majestic as its grandfather. With such breath-taking relatives overlooking the little sapling, it hoped someday to be as mighty.
Each day, the sun shone down upon the forest bringing strength and taking some of the snowfall with it by the time it slid behind the western horizon. Each day, the sapling became more noticeable as the snow slowly disappeared. The sapling knew it was only a matter of time before a deer included it in its morning feast.
One morning, a thick curtain of clouds hid the sun behind, resulting in a cooler, darker start to the day. There was also an uneasy quiet. No deer ventured nearby. No squirrels. No birds. The sapling knew there was something special about today, but was it a good special? Or bad?
There! The crunch of snow. Perhaps the deer were a little slow getting about this morning. The sound made by footsteps in what remained of the snowfall was different today. It was slower, louder. It wasn't the deer, that was clear. Closer the footsteps approached. Then they stopped--right next to its grandfather. What was that? The sapling never saw a creature like that one. Only two legs. The odd creature resumed its walk and headed directly for the sapling. Then there was a sound high above coming from its grandfather. The creature stopped and looked up, just in time to see a large branch fall on it and knock it down upon the snow. The creature made a loud sound that broke the early morning silence for a great distance. Then, it got up and disappeared, limping on those two legs, making more loud sounds. The rest of the day was uneventful and quiet.
It wasn't long before the sapling grew tall, stronger, and its leaves were fresh, green, and tantalizing for deer. So far, deer seemed to take no notice of the sapling. The snow had long disappeared, replaced by wildflowers appearing as if God used His colored paint brushes to dress the forest clearings.
As the sapling enjoyed the sunlight one day, new sounds suddenly broke the silence. More two-legged creatures? No. These sounds were different. From out of the shadows appeared a brown bear with two cubs. They, too, must be seeking nourishment. The mother bear stood up and began clawing at the sapling's grandfather's bark. Oh, what damage the bear was creating!
There. That other sound again. Just as when the two-legged creature was struck by a large limb, another one fell upon the mother bear. It howled and sprinted away back into the shadows followed closely by its cubs.
How odd. The branches fell close to the trunk of his grandfather, both hitting creatures as if the sapling's grandfather was defending itself, fighting back. The sapling felt safe, protected. No creature was going to invade this area without the sapling's grandfather having something to do in defense.
The sapling leaned a little toward its grandfather. Could it be? Did it actually happen? Did its grandfather actually smile at the sapling?