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Chestnut

The place where the sky meets the earth is filled with rainbows. Streaks of yellow light flash through the air. Globes of blue float on the ground. Soft white mist sways and dances over dew laden grass. Spiders weave webs amongst the leaves, butterflies sip nectar, bees search for pollen and each and every part of nature is abundant. Countless varieties of tree thrive, from young beech saplings to time forgotten dark green yews. Amongst all this accomplishment a sapling progresses slowly, year-by-year, upward and downward.

Now, it came about one unique spring, the youthful tree felt a surge within its branches, a strange outpouring of energy trying to break through its bark. But the tree was self-conscious and kept the feelings secret. All around merry catkins danced on hazel twigs and white blossom frothed over the cherry trees. Days passed. The pressure on the tree became greater.

Expanding and warming, at length it could contain itself no longer. With a great out breath it released entirely the pent up emotions. The spiders clung to the skeins of their webs as the branches shuddered and shook, as if in an earthquake. Then the tree relaxed. With its next in breath it felt bigger and yes, different.

A chestnut horse that had been grazing in a particularly succulent clump of grass, aroused by the commotion, blinked and nodded to the tree. ‘Not seen that before, very imaginative’, it said. The bemused tree looked around. Was the horse referring to it? What was, very imaginative? ‘It’s those upright growths on your branches’, the horse replied to the trees anxious queries.

‘You’ve developed’… the horse hesitated searching for a description, for a word to portray what it saw. ‘You’ve grown some thingamabobs, and very attractive they are’, it kindly added. The sapling was as delighted as it could be. Whatever had happened was obviously agreeable to the horse, thus everything must be all right.

As the sun journeyed towards distant lands the horse gathered many relatives and acquaintances to admire the tree. They stood in groups, swishing tails, knocking excited midges off their backs, grooming each other, and enjoying a fine party. A very merry crowd it was. A boisterous colt, dashed through the chattering elders, rolled over and over in fun, celebrating its birthday. The shy tree, embarrassed by all the attention, but pretending not to, stood listening to the chatter.

Then the chestnut horse had an idea. Unsure of the reaction, it strolled over to the tree. He explained carefully that there was a custom that on birthdays there is a cake with candles on, and these are blown out by the one whose birthday it is. The thingamabobs had gradually opened in the full heat of the day and were now a wonderful display of candle like flowers. He asked if they might borrow one of the tree’s thingamabobs as a make-believe candle for the colt to blow out

The tree was honoured and delighted with this suggestion and happily agreed to the plan, its good nature overcoming its timidity. Always the tree loved the rainbow world. Now, blissfully, it could share a special pleasure as well. Soon all had gathered round the tree nodding their heads, their manes fluttering in approval.

The chestnut horse stood on its back legs and placed it front hooves firmly onto the tree trunk. With a great effort it caught one of the branches bearing a flowery candle it its mouth and pulled it down towards the waiting colt. The colt flared its nostrils and blew. The candle shivered and wavered in the rush of hot breath then ‘went out’ as the petals all fluttered to the ground.

A cheer echoed through the assembled partygoers and they clattered their hooves in appreciation. The white horse opened its jaws and the branch sprang upright. ‘Oh dear, oh dear’, muttered the horse as it took its hooves off the tree. ‘I’ve marked your bark and left the imprint of my shoes on it’. The tree had felt the heavy weight of the horse but had enjoyed the party so much that it assured the horse it was of no matter. The tree was happy to carry the marks as a remembrance of the jovial gathering when its candles shone for the first time.

The place where the sky meets the earth is filled with rainbows. And every spring a tree with chestnut horse markings celebrates the coming summer with flowery candles.

Page last updated: 13th Jan 2011