Once upon a time there was a tiny sliver of a meadow sandwiched between a busy highway and a row of towering apartment blocks. The meadow was mostly forgotten but the inhabitants didn’t mind it that way, they liked that their only visitors were the joyful sun and beautiful moon. They felt safe among their wise friends, the tall pines and the wide birches who had seen the passing of as many seasons as lovers who had left their marks on their pale, ancient skins.
Every spring the time came when the meadow community would decorate itself in celebration of the returning insects and luxurious sunny days. The trees put on their greenest costumes and the grasses donned their happiest colors and the whole meadow was dazzling in its spectacular white, yellow and purple decorations. Such was the fame of this festive celebration that butterflies and humans alike came from all around to experience this much anticipated display.
Insects and bees came to the meadow again and spread the news of what each leaf and flower had been up to during the long, cold hibernation of the winter months. It was a joyous time in the tiny meadow. One spring, the festivities were punctuated by a sad discovery. One of the beloved elms that stood with a humble and friendly pride in the center of the meadow had fallen ill! The poor tree was showing signs of a contagious disease and the whole meadow was abuzz with the devastating news about their beloved friend.
As the spring festivities came to a gentle close, the warm lull of summer settled over the peaceful meadow and the days grew slowly longer. One morning a pair of men appeared at the edge of the meadow with their noisy, smelly metal boxes and machines. They shouted loudly to one another and threw their cigarettes to the ground, stomping them into the fertile soil as they stepped heavily across the meadow. These men were not holding hands or picnic lunches as most of the meadow’s visitors usually did and though the residents of the community perked up with their usual buzzing and blowing welcome, they quickly realized that something was not right.
When the men began to roar and their hands began to cut, the cries of the elms were louder than the highway and all the meadow seemed to shudder with sympathy. The pines looked to the sun and asked their friend, “Can’t anything be done?” The birds sang out to the moon, “Won’t you help our poor friend?” But their hope was no match for the passage of time. Their pleas were shortly silenced with the heavy thud of the elm, returning to the Earth from which he came. The grasses and insects gave a final hug to the old friend and his branches stroked their faces as he tenderly told them not to worry, he would be back.
Seasons passed, rains fell, winds blew, and the meadow became whole again in its new form. But always there remained the deep and strong roots of their old friend the elm, a testament to the love and place he would always have in the community. Bees, birds and butterflies would sit among the branches of the elm who remained and reminisce with her about the lover she once knew. New insects made their home above these fine, wise roots and the community grew up and around their scar for they didn’t know what else to do and that was their nature.
One brilliant spring day, in the midst of the meadow’s annual festivities, one particularly spectacular performance attracted a young girl from the nearby flats. All the insects ceased their buzzing and the trees watched apprehensively as the girl picked her way through the flowers with care. Gracefully and cautiously she headed to the grave of the old elm. The birds were impressed with the grace of her landing and once more the butterflies cheered with joy. The roots at last had found expression and life, a new tree was born, more beautiful than the last. The whole meadow glowed and everyone agreed that it was the most successful spring festival they had ever celebrated. The tall elm smiled down to her old companion and everyone cheered at once, “We knew you’d be back! Welcome home, dear friend!”
And that, my friends, is the story of the happiest meadow on which the sun ever shone.
Advice from a tree.