CHRISTMAS WITH THE ALDER WOOD
© Vickey Stamps 12/4/09…. 9:30 a.m.
It was an old tree and if one were there at the right time and year, it might be seen to tug at its roots, limbering up its limbs and branches in a tall stretch. After all, even a tree such as this one, with its whitish-gray bark, could stand just so long over its many years with stillness. Granted of course were the times when the winds blew upon and against it, when it would fear it might not stand any longer, but always the wind passed. Afterwards, the small life living within and on it would return to their business of living. In the ground near where its roots rested, a family of ground squirrels had made groups of homes in earth hollows, and rested now, among the nuts and edibles they had harvested for the cold days. The tree knew a new season was ahead for its beautiful covers of leafs, were almost gone, having merged with those of other trees, drifting upon currents of air. At last they lay in a fading display or carpet of gold and greens upon the earth. Many rings of age lay within the old tree. Here none were to be seen for the tree would surely not be cut in its old age. It had watched others from the forest on the other side, as now cut, they rode on their sides on the flattened backs of large trucks, to become a fine piece of furniture or bit of art. Some would become alder logs and warm the hearts of the humans.
It had stood on this small cliff top, beside a rising and winding country road. On the other side were small clearings and a forest. Before it a great sea or ocean, its wrinkled waters layered and sliding now in rows, onto the narrow cove of land not far below. Beside it and dancing in the enjoyment of a small breeze, grew wild grasses. Some parts of the years, all manner of wild flowers had stood beside them. There had grown berries of blackberry, huckleberry and salmon berries. Pine nuts hung in abundance on some of the trees. Evergreens were plentiful, as were its nearby cousin Alder woods. Now the tree thought within itself of all the beauty that surrounded it, and how it had been blessed indeed to have been placed just where it was. Perhaps in the lateness of night, a cougar or elk might wander by and they could share a few moments together. Much of nature walked about in the quiet hours in this place. Even from the sea would come the sound of sea lions barking, or the sight of a distant whale up to ‘blow’ before returning to deeper depths of the sea. A fog horn would announce itself now and then for the ships that floated upon it, to warn them away from the rocky structures that rose from its sea floor.
Now the tree strained as best it could, bringing its ‘burls or tree ears’ ever nearer, in order to better hear the conversations of two humans whose old car had parked in its remaining sparse shade. A young man spread a patterned blanket upon the dirt and they sat… now, on it. The young man had just spoken of the Thanksgiving past and the coming of another Christmas. He told the young woman how thankful he was for having met her and of the love that had grown within him for her. He hoped it was the same for her. Now he asked if she would join her life with his and become his future. She smiled sweetly upon him, a wreath of love upon her face, surely apparent to any who might drive past and see them as they sat together on the blanket.
He had little money, but perhaps it would not always be this way. He had no ring to offer, but a gift of his love. Now he drew from his jacket a layered necklace of madrone berries, dried and pierced to hang upon a thin strip of leather. Here and there among the berries, lay tiny hearts he had whittled and polished, stringing them between some of the berries. How the other ladies at the reservation would envy her of this engagement gift. She would treasure it among all other gifts that might come her way across the years, years that waited for them to live in together.
He thought perhaps the Shaman might marry them on the day of Christmas, when the greatest gift of love had come such a long time ago… to all mankind living upon the earth. Each year they would have a double celebration of love to grace their lives. He had brought her to this place for he had felt as if warmth and love came from this tree with its many years. Surely it contained much tree wisdom. He too treasured the view all around the old tree and thought it a special place to ask his question regarding the joining of the two of them forever. Perhaps the setting would bring him the luck he hoped for…and it had.
Life was good.