Why Does the Beech Tree Keep Its Leaves in Winter?*

Posted by jlubans on March 25, 2024


Caption: Oil painting of beeches by Canadian artist in author's collection.

Now, listen well and I will tell you why.
Long ago all trees flourished and grew many feet into the sky, as high as they could go. Then a drought came and the trees began to suffer.
Their leader, the Great Oak, called a council of trees to consider what to do. This was a time when trees could walk and talk. Many in the assembly thought it best to leave for elsewhere; certainly, over the mountains there must be rain and rich dirt!
A few blamed the Great Oak for the hardship, "it was a matter of poor leadership, indeed failed leadership!" some harrumphed. Yes, trees back then could find fault just like people.
Many trees joined in the criticism, and advised - with much rustling and creaking of branches - crossing the mountains.
The Oak heard, but said he was staying. It was best, in his eyes, to stand silently and wait in wisdom: use less food from the earth and produce less fruit, and wait for the rains. All, including their animal friends, will have to do with less.
The Beech Tree listened and considered. She remembered Grandmother Beech's stories about the joy of bountiful days and the misery of lean times. "There will be times of plenty, there will be times of less. Some years there will be little growth, other years will be full of new leaves and heavy hanging fruit. Never is each year the same."
She taught that only patience and sacrifice will get a tree through a bad year into a good one.
Then, the Beech Tree spoke up and said she would stay by the side of Great Oak.
Hearing Beech Tree's wisdom, many trees reconsidered and stayed. Some trees did pick up their roots and move away, seeking a gentler climate. They found little improvement; the drought was throughout the land. Their energy spent on crossing the mountains, many died.
Those that stayed with the Great Oak suffered but survived.
Eventually, the rains came and the forest turned green.
At the next council, the Great Oak told all the trees that the Beech Tree would keep its autumn leaves through the winter. It was to remind everyone of the importance of loyalty, faith, and patience - and of Beech's independence.
Her leaves would shine brightly in bands of gold amidst winter's grey. "Those un-fallen leaves will remind us of the warm rain and sun, the gentle winds, and our soon-to-return animal friends, small and large and winged."

*An original, aboriginal-style story, it first appeared in early 2013 as one of my Friday Fables, The Beech Tree in Winter. Here it is again, little changed.

Speaking of fables :

And, for aboriginal insights on working:
Leading from the Middle, is available at Amazon.

Copyright all text and illustration by John Lubans 2013 & 2024

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