Written By: BG Jenkins
A tree narrates the story of its life. This writing prompt came from Weekly Writing Prompt 4/10/2017
Papa Oak and the Grove
Dear Papa Oak sat in the grove
To tell his tales of days of old.
While all the creatures gathered in
To hear how Papa’s grove began.
Whispers of breezes glided through the trees in the grove, as the woodland creatures scurried to find their spot beneath the shelter of Papa Oak’s branches. This was the day that Papa Oak was going to tell the story of how grove came to be. He was older than everyone else who lived here. Even the maple trees weren’t as old as Papa, though they were much taller.
“Good morning, Papa,” said Squirrel.
“Good morning, Squirrel,” Papa replied.
“Good morning, Papa. Good morning, Papa,” all of the other animals said together.
“Good morning, my Dear Ones,” said Papa. “Are you ready to hear about how our family grove began?”
“Yes! Yes!” Many little voices called out.
“Settle in,” Papa said, “because this may take a while.”
Papa reached out his branches and leaves to cover all of his family from the rays of the sun, while the maples looked on.
“It was many, many years ago,” Papa began, “that I was forced from my mother’s hand in another field. So many years ago that I can’t even remember how long. Long before your grandparents, and their grandparents.” Papa said, and smiled.
“Ooooo,” said Fox in a soft tone, “that’s a long time.”
“Yes,” Papa nodded, “it was. Now, let me tell you what I remember. When we were young, my mother placed us all in leathery shells, and put hats on us to keep us safe and warm. We were told to stay inside our shells, on the tree, until Mother told us it was time to drop. “Dropping day was very special.
When we were still hanging at home, my family had so much fun together. We would talk and sway in the breeze, and sometimes, we’d even play “crack the nut” if the wind was blowing hard enough. It was a good home. Even now, I can hear everyone knocking heads, and feel the gentle touch of Mother’s leaves on my shell,” Papa said with a tear in his knothole.
“Then “dropping day” came and my siblings began falling one by one, but I refused. I was the last one on the tree, and I didn’t want to go,” Papa said while raising his limbs.
“One day Mother told me, ‘Dear One, it’s time to let go of my hand so that you can find your own soil to grow in so that you can start your own family.’
I was afraid to let go, so Mother held my hand a little while longer. There I was, the youngest, and the last acorn on the tree. And I wasn’t leaving!”
“What did you do, Papa,” asked Bird.
“I kept hanging on,” said Papa, “but not for very much longer. Soon after that, a fierce storm came across our land. It began with sprinkles of rain, then lightning flashes lit up the sky like fireworks, and thunder followed quickly after.
‘Boom!’ went the thunder. ‘Boom! Boom! Boom!’
The animals jumped at the sound of Papa’s loud voice.
It scared me from the top of my hat to the bottom of my shell. I held Mother’s hand as tight as I could. Then the mightiest of all winds started blowing. I could hear the ‘oooooowl’ sound before it hit me, and the wind broke my grip on Mother’s hand. I began turning and spinning in the wind. I was afraid my shell would crack. Gushing rain made rivers on the land and I found myself twirling in water. Hours later when the rain had stopped, and the water dried up, there I sat on soggy ground.”
“What happened then, Papa?” Asked Deer?
The cold covered me like a frosty leaf. I just wanted to get warm, so I dug into the soft soil. The days were growing colder, and I had to keep digging deeper so I wouldn’t freeze. I remembered what Mother taught us about “dropping day.” She made us say it over and over again. I got so tired of saying it, but she made us promise to remember it.”
“What?” Several of them asked at the same time.
“Mother said, ‘Keep digging and pushing my Dear Ones, no matter what happens. The dirt isn’t always soft, and your roots need to stretch and grow. This will give you strength to stand when strong winds are blowing.’ Mother also made up a little poem to help us remember,
‘You push against the winds in life.
You dig so you can stand.
Strength will come when you believe
Enough to know you can!
And you can my Dear Ones,’ she would say. ‘Believe that you can stand when the winds blow.’”
“Did you dig, Papa?” Squirrel wanted to know.
“Yes, I did, Dear One,” Papa replied. “I’m glad Mother taught us her poem. I remembered it when I needed to push my roots to find food and water, and when I had to dig deeper to stay warm. It took many years of digging before I could push up through, and under the dirt enough, to stand tall in the warm sunshine.”
“We’re did the rest of our family come from?” Asked Deer.
“Well now,” Papa said, as he leaned over closer, “it was just me, and Sun, Wind, and Rain for a while, until one day my little “helicopter” friends came.”
“I know who they are,” said Bird. I sit on their branches all the time. They are the Maples.”
“That’s right,” Papa said. The helicopter seedlings came twirling in year after year, and landed right here in the grove. They have grown tall, and bring me joy every year with their brilliant colors. Once they came, the woodland creatures, your past family members came to build nests on our limbs, hid nuts in our hollows, dug burrows near our roots, and lived under our branches. What a beautiful family we had, and still have today.
Ok, Dear Ones, I think that’s enough story time for today. Some of you have chores to do.”
“Ok, Papa,” said the obedient nature creatures.” (Well, we can dream.)
“But before you go, Dear Ones, I want you to know I love you, and don’t forget today’s story.”
And they all hurried off to do their chores.
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(c) 2017 Copyright – BG Jenkins