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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Season(s) of a year or life (01/13/11)

TITLE: The Tree
By Gerald Shuler
01/17/11


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SPRING

I am young, defenseless; so new to this world that all I can do is look around me in wonder. My entire life lies ahead and, with great eagerness, I am ready for it. A tree stands beside me, tall and strong. Its branches spread above me, giving me shade. The wind moves each branch and, to my delight, the tree dances for me. Each leaf, bright green in the morning sun, sings lullabies to me when even the slightest breath of a breeze blows. I must remember to someday thank the tree for the joy and peace I gleaned from the lullabies and the dancing.

To me, though, the tree is a curious mystery. It seems to have a strong attraction, almost an unbreakable connection, to me. That makes no sense. Why would this tree be so concerned with me? Yet, day by day, the tree remains the one most constant thing in my life. I am glad the tree is near me; I draw great comfort from just the simple knowledge that it is near. Still, the mystery is ever on my mind about the tree’s concern for my well-being. It gives the impression that, should the need ever present itself, the tree would willingly give its life for me with no regrets.

Why? What interest has this tree in me?

SUMMER

Ah, life is such a sweet adventure. Day after day I explore the wonders of it, always keenly aware that I am only scratching the surface of what is there. My life is still young, though. There is still much for me to learn.

My tree continues hovering its branches over me. Sometimes I feel the word should be ‘smothering’ its branches. The tree tries to rule every area of my life and I resent my lack of freedom. Still, I like the continued singing and dancing so I tolerate the smothering.

I have noticed that my tree is changing. Its leaves, once tender and vividly green, have broadened and toughened. Hungry insects have caused damage to its leaves and bark. I shouldn’t be surprised by that . . . life has a way of wearing down even the strongest of trees. No matter what life does to my tree, though, it still seems to have my interest in mind at all times.

Why? What interest has this tree in me?

FALL

I have finally grown up. In my childhood it seemed this day would never arrive. Now that it has I find myself wondering how it came so quickly. I have met someone that I want to share the rest of my life with in marriage. It is yet another adventure and I look forward to it with zeal.

Something is happening to my tree. The once vibrant leaves are turning dry and losing their color. The wind now, instead of inspiring songs, rattles the dry, dead leaves until they break from the branches and fall lifelessly to the ground. The tree can no longer protect me and this saddens me greatly. Even now, though, my tree looks for ways to give to me whatever it can.

Why? What interest has this tree in me?

WINTER

Life is much more difficult that I had ever imagined it in my youth. What once was daily playful exploring has become an unavoidable pressure to work; to supply the needs of my family. There is no time to enjoy life anymore. I work, I sleep, I work again. There is good reason why I endure this, though . . . we have given birth to our first precious child. Sometimes I sing lullabies to her and, because she seems to enjoy it, I dance a playful little jig and watch her giggle. She has become my entire reason for enduring the harshness of winter.

My tree, still near but not so dominant as before, has grown old. All its leaves are gone and it has nothing left to offer me for protection. It doesn’t matter to me, though, because I have grown to love the tree with all my heart. I will gladly take care of my wonderful tree in any way I can. I have finally come to understand the mystery of the tree. I need only look into my baby’s eyes to see the same question I had so often asked. She looks up at me and, with genuine curiousity, seems to be asking . . .

“Why? What interest has this tree in me?”


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This article has been read 638 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sunny Loomis 01/25/11
I like the POV of this piece. Well done. Thank you.
Joanne Sher 01/25/11
So very creative! Beautiful descriptions.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 01/25/11
Wow, I just love this tree that has interest in me.
Rachel Phelps01/26/11
Once I reached the end of your story, I had to go back and read it again to savor it. Really lovely imagery and a great message. Well done!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 10/23/13
I love this. The symbolism is powerful. I couldn't help but think of the children's grieving story called the Fall of Freddie the Leaf. You seem to take it a step further, with the Tree of Life always right there watching over us and caring, even when we don't realize it. This is simply beautiful.