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Willow

Far away, beyond the southern hills, towered a mountain and, beyond that, hid an enchanted land. Life there was bizarre. At a moment, time flew so quickly that the hawthorn appeared on fire with its berries burning bright autumnal red and then, in the very next instant, green leaves and white blossom swayed in the freshness of spring. The seasons passed in seconds – or took hundreds of years to change.

In the middle of this place sat a motionless lake, and in the middle of the lake an island, and on the middle of the island stood a large, tall, majestic stone. Honey poured from its top and flowed down its fluted sides, as a fountain does.

At the edge of the lake damsel and dragonflies darted and hovered amongst the sedges. In the depths of the lake swam a salmon of wisdom. On the island shores a heron watched. Roaming the island in happy contentment a unicorn regularly strolled to the water’s edge to drink and pass the time in conversation with the heron. Being a vain creature, the unicorn stood admiring its reflection in the water. Often, the unicorn spoke aloud of how proud it was of its beautiful features. Unimpressed, the heron shrugged its grey shoulders, and continued to watch the water. But, long ago, a nearby tree grew curious of the unicorn’s chatter.

The tree would check and scan its own form. Sensing the roots in the soil, it found where the trunk grew, leaving earth and lifting into the air. Touching its branches, discovering where leaves hung on twigs. Knowing what it felt on the inside the tree grew more and more agitated to look upon itself from the outside. Wanting to be as the unicorn, viewing its own fine body.

Frustrated, the tree became increasingly eager to know what it looked like. Asking the stone how it appeared, the monolith enigmatically replied that what was on the inside is expressed by the outer appearance. Taking this advice the tree repeatedly checked and scanned its structure, learning more, aware of fluids flowing within. The water in the soil sucked through fine roots, rose up the trunk and tingled in its leaves. Then a great truth came to the tree – it was a fountain… like the stone…

Next time the unicorn came to the water’s edge the tree excitedly recounted what the stone had said and that it now knew it was a fountain. The unicorn hesitated, but, of course, could not agree that the tree looked like a stone. In fact he insisted. No, the tree did not look like a fountain, no, not at all. Now the restless tree was confused. It searched for elusive answers, becoming aware of solid strength. Firm on the ground, high in the air, towering above other beings on the island, recently the heron had built a nest of broken branches within its canopy.

The tree surveyed the land. What extended upwards to similar height? What was as firmly standing on the earth? And where else did a bird feel safe enough to build a nest? Well, it soon became obvious what matched these requirements. The mountain. Especially as the tree had seen an eagle recently building a fine nest high on a ledge near the summit.

Next time the unicorn came to the water’s edge the tree happily told of the discovery. It was indeed a mountain. But, of course, the unicorn could not agree, insisting that the tree did not have the appearance of the mountain. No, no, not at all.

The disappointed tree saddened, and being a truly sensitive spirit, wept. The watery tears dripped from its leaves onto the surface of the lake, spreading out in great circular waves. The unicorn, which had been admiring his profile, found it lost in the ridges of sadness created by the tears. They also disturbed the watching heron, which immediately called the unicorn and salmon to a council. The tree’s misery was too upsetting and they decided help was needed. Surely, if the tree saw itself all would be well again. Thus, on one beautiful day, in this enchanted land, one tree was helped to see its reflection, ensuring that it would weep no more.

Pushing against the tree’s trunk the unicorn started by bending the tree towards the lake edge. Then the heron flew into the branches, caught one in its beak and pulled downwards towards the water’s surface, where the salmon leapt up, caught the branch and pulled it under the water. A higher branch, hauled downwards, met the water, then another, and another.

The tree creaked and cracked as it was stretched and pulled. Its branches grew longer and longer, until finally the unicorn could push no more, it was so weakened by the efforts. The heron’s neck hurt from all the tugging, and the salmon could barely leap above gill height. They rested.

But the tree, now all the activity had ceased, gradually looked down onto the watery mirror and saw itself for the first time. Quivering with delight and joy, its amazed voice broke the quiet. In realisation of what a beautiful tree was reflected there, it wept again, this time in pleasure.

Page last updated: 13th Jan 2011