An old Oak Tree and a young girl...
|The sun was shining and there was a strong breeze blowing through the limbs of the old oak tree. The tree was ancient, having first sprouted through the earth over 300 years ago. The young sapling grew and flourished in the rich soil of the open field that surrounded it and had matured into the great tree that was standing today.
But great things must also come to an end. With each gust of wind, the old tree creaked and groaned, the roots giving up the hold on the earth that they had maintained over the years. The oak held on with all its might, fighting the wind and the currents until it could last no longer, and with a final elegance, gave up its clasp on the soil and crashed to the ground.
The child was sitting at the dinner table playing with her food, when she heard the sound. She looked up at her dad and saw that he had also heard the noise.
“What was that, daddy?” the girl asked.
“Sounds like a tree came down, hun,” he replied. “After dinner, we will walk out and see if we can find it, but you need to eat first.”
The child went back to work on her food, eating quickly so they could find the source of the noise.
The father and daughter walked out past the barns and into the field, hand in hand. They had done this quite often over the years, exploring the fields and streams that criss-crossed the farm. They had their special spots that they held dear to their hearts and when they topped the rise in the hill, they both stopped and stood there silent, not knowing what to say. Below them, in the quiet little valley created by the gentle stream flowing through the farm, was the old oak, prostate on the ground. Its magnificent canopy no longer silhouetted the sky, but lay broken and crumbled over the banks of the creek.
“What happened, daddy?” the little girl whispered.
“Well, hun, the tree was old.” the dad explained, “Its roots could no longer support it and the wind took it down.”
Tears sprang to the girl's eyes. This was her favorite place to play. The tree had been her companion for most of her ten years in life. She had learned to climb in its low, strong branches, and swung from the rope her dad had hung, jumping into the cool fresh water of the creek. When things got tough and she needed a place to go, she always came to the oak and cuddled in its old roots that twisted and curled as they dug their way into the earth.
It was the oak that comforted her while her mother suffered from a long illness, and it was here that her dad found her and carried her home and placed her in bed the day her mother died. It was here that she and her dad had picnicked in the shade of the boughs, laying in the grass and watching the clouds float by, discussing the important things in the life of a young girl.
The tears came heavy now, she could not stop them. She and her dad walked down and caressed the broken tree. The huge root system created an ugly tear along the edge of the water. Slowly they made their way back to the old farm house and carried on with life, but it just was not the same. There was something missing in the heart of the girl and she very seldom smiled anymore.
Winter came and they had exceptional snow that year. It was a hard season and the girl and her father looked forward to the coming of Spring. The new births on the farm brought some hint of gladness to the girl's eyes. She always enjoyed this time of year with the baby calves bawling in the fields. One day her dad brought home a young pup and gave to her. Although she was happy for the pup, she still did not smile like she used to.
School was out for the summer and she and her pup were growing like weeds. She would walk to the edge of the barn lot and look out towards the hill, but she could not venture to go there. The memories of the loss of the old oak tree were still fresh in her heart.
She turned and started back to the barn, to play in the loft when the pup took off up over the hill. She yelled, but he continued to run, chasing imaginary rabbits and jumping through the tall grasses. The girl ran after him, not wanting to lose sight of the pup. Up over the rise and down into the small valley they ran until the pup stopped at the edge of the stream. The girl stopped and realized where they were.
She stood, and sadness started invading her heart as she looked at the old oak laying there naked in the sun, void of all leaves and its branches decaying all around her. She walked up to the ruined tree and cradled it, touching its peeling bark. She walked back to the upraised mound that the root system created when it tore from the earth and was surprised to see that a pond had been created. She stepped closer and discovered a whole new world of life living in the waters of this small protected body of water. Tadpoles, minnows, water bugs of all kinds were flourishing within its banks.
The girl was amazed at all the creatures that had made their home here. She studied the inhabitants for hours, taking off her shoes and wading into the water to get closer to them. While pursuing her newest discovery, she looked up to see the pup looking at her from the shore of the pond. She called to him, but he barked and ran back a few feet, standing there looking at her with that quizzical look that only dogs can give us.
She stepped out of the water and walked over to him, and her eyes opened in amazement. She yelled at the pup to follow, and ran back to the barns where her dad was working.
“Dad, dad, come quick!” she yelled. “Hurry, come on, I’ve got to show you something down by the pond,” she said.
“Pond?” the dad asked. “What ever are you talking about, girl? And where in the heck are your shoes, young lady?”
“Please, dad… just come with me,” she cried.
The dad followed her and the pup back down to the valley and was amazed to see the small pond that the fallen old oak had created. But the girl yelled at him to come see… and he climbed over the broken branches to see what she had found.
There, standing all alone, flourishing in the sun, was a young oak tree. The trunk was a mere three feet tall, but the small branches were spreading out creating a miniature shadow on the ground.
“Look,” said the girl. “It’s a new oak tree, a seedling of the old oak that fell last year.”
“Well, I’ll be.” said the dad, “I think you are right, hon. That old oak wasn’t about to leave us without something to replace it. You take good care of that young tree and it will grow up to be just as majestic as its mother was, you hear?”
The dad looked at his young daughter, and her face beamed with a smile he had not seen since last year. He shook his head in amazement and knew that everything would be alright now. He had been worried about her, but now his smiled almost matched hers.
Hand in hand, they walked back to the old farm house, the pup bouncing along in front of them, the girl skipping and laughing, her smile lighting up the countryside and her dad beaming with pride at how she was growing up so.