The Dancing Tree
A long long time ago, in a land far far away, there was a beautiful forest. A lively burbling stream flowed through it, rippling over pebbles and boulders, sometimes playing hide and go seek behind tall bushes and brambles dripping with blackberries plump with dark juicy promises. Tiny jewel toned fishes darted here and there in the stream, staking their lives again and again for microscopic gains. Dragon flies mirrored their aquatic accomplices, their crystalline eyes fracturing the world into a million octagonal fragments.
Beside one particular bend in the river, a sapling grew, lanky and tall. Its drooping limbs were thin, almost ashen, with peeling bark hanging in tatters. It’s branches were frail, with barely any leaves. Oh the leaves! Small heart shaped grey useless things, the stems sagged in dejection.
Nearby there were trees with thick glossy olive leaves with a lustrous sheen, nothing pretentious, just a quiet, rich statement of worth. They unfurled waxy cream flowers with a heady fragrance which gave way to glistening globes of bright ochre hues, oranges, lemons, tangerines, mandarins and clementines. The apple trees grew sturdily strong, their branches ready to support climbing feet reaching for Eden’s fruit, so luminescent crimson. At the base of the foothills, tall, dignified trees stood guard, stalwart defenders with thick trunks oozing medicinal sap which thickened with an astringent odor. Fluted leaves of Kelly green hid multihued treasures shaded richly with amber, yellow, coral and scarlet on the Mango tree, the flavorful flesh beckoning with the promise of heaven. The sapling sighed as it grew even taller, so tall that it’s tip bent towards the stream in apology. Now it was covered with pallid, nearly colorless leaves, trailing in dejection in the water tracing a perennial ripple of sorrow.
And then came a day as grey as the tree! The skies changed to a brooding rumbling swath of clouds and wispy fingers of mist reached down among the trees. Slowly, silence swept through the woods. At the first flirtatious eddies of breeze, the sapling’s leaves caught their suggestions and fluttered, turning silvery in seduction. Stronger gusts responded to their shy interest, and the sapling swayed, the trunk pliant, the branches moved in graceful rhythm, first this way and then that.
The clouds took notice from the heavens, and sent down sparkling companions, revealing a million rainbows in a celestial backdrop for the sapling. As each drop hit the dry earth, tiny little whirlwinds of dry dirt pirouetted in a miniature chorus. A rich smell rose from the newly wet ground, twisting and coiling in opulent invitation, calling all who wanted to be part of this experience.
The sapling’s leaves started their choreography, shimmying, now silver, and now green. Then came the more complex patterns, the trunk moved one way, branches moved the other way, and the rain beat an ever changing cadence. It seemed chaotic, drawing in energy from the universe, as though acknowledging and challenging the timid to join in the madness. Suddenly there came the harsh haunting calls as the proud peacocks spread their feathers in joyous accompaniment.
Lightening spotlighted the tumultuous scene, and thunder signaled the end of the overture.
Now a strong steady pulse thrummed through the forest and the tree started its triumphant dance. Pure sentiment ripped through the watchers as they were taken on a journey, the movements telling a tale of heart rending sorrow, grievous loss, miraculous redemption and untrammeled ecstasy. There were Gods who needed forgiveness, and Demons crying out for justice. Tears of sorrow and joy swelled the stream which carried the tales to distant lands. A million hearts beat as one as they rose to a crescendo, the tree standing tall in triumph, a giant dominating the landscape.
Finally it slowed, the audience shaken in guilty embarrassment. To be caught in such naked emotion seemed excessive, exhibitionist, even a little ridiculous, demented. As the drizzle trailed off, and the wind died down, the others reminded themselves of their proven superiority, real contributions, actual benefits. Their looks, their strength, their shade, their age, their fruit – things that would count, and things that could be counted. And the sapling bowed, disappearing in its drab fragility.