The Forever Tree
Falling leaves was the most beautiful, vibrant young woman in the Tribe, at least Red Squirrel thought so! They were very much in love; a giving love, not a taking love. He appreciated her spectrum of colors; she appreciated his gentleness, and loftiness. They lived an idyllic life, a few miles inland from the ocean, on a tract of land bordered by woods, fields, and a small river. There was no hiding among the People, everyone met each other’s eyes, whether sad, or happy, or even angry. All eyes sparkled, as well, whether young or old. Their valley, and the bay nearby, provided everything they needed. Small excursions afield provided diversity in both their diet, as well as their social life. They trusted The Great Spirit in all things, and in all situations. Nowhere, ever, was there a happier, heart-filled people! Red Squirrel always looked at Falling Leaves in wonder, when she spent time in play with the children of the tribe, teaching them games that she had learned as a child. She was so comfortable and free with them! When he watched her with their own little one, he thought his heart would burst; mother’s love like a peach colored sunset seemed to envelope them. When he lay with her at night, he felt humbled that The Great Spirit should have chosen him to be with her, and her with him. It was that kind of love which had brought forth their first child. They named her Eagle Feather, a living symbol that their love was so lofty and powerful. The day she was born, Red Squirrel had witnessed the mating flight of two eagles, and watched a feather float to the ground. He knew his daughter from that moment, and knew the love from which she sprung. Red Squirrel did everything he could to make it easier for Falling Leaves, while the baby was so young and tender. The other members of the tribe laughed good-naturedly at him, as he carried huge armfuls of alder wood for the cooking fire, for they remembered themselves doing the same thing, when their mates had given birth. Falling Leaves and Red Squirrel had grown up together, inseparable from the start. Everyone in the tribe seemed to know that they belonged together; such things were not uncommon then. Both had a depth of perception and emotion that was uncommon, and they would go off alone together, even at nine or ten years old. They had a favorite place that they had shared, and vowed that it would be their secret place, for all eternity. A stream ran through the center of their camp. It provided a steady supply of freshwater for their every need, as well as an abundant supply of fresh fish. It also provided transportation to the bay, where they collected clams, muscles, whelk, and saltwater fish at certain times of the year. Overlooking this stream, at the edge of a field, was their secret place. It was a huge pine, with branches all the way down to the ground, and they would disappear just as soon as they climbed the first few branches. They’d sit for hours, in those branches, watching birds, squirrels, and sometimes even deer and moose, if the wind was just right, and didn’t carry their scent to them. Their pine hideaway became a place of kissing and secret rendezvous in their teen years. Even after their Ceremony, they would escape to their secret place, alone, for contemplation and renewal; or together, to relive in amazement, how good their lives had been for so long. Red Squirrel was with Falling Leaves when she gave birth. Doing so was not specifically forbidden, but it was highly unusual. Red Squirrel knew that he could not forgive himself if anything happened to her at the birth. He knew that the midwife, and The Great Spirit had things under control; still, he had to be with her. When Eagle Feather came into the world, Red Squirrel’s head and upper body felt as if they were immersed in liquid sky, so powerful was the Presence of The Great Spirit! His attention shifted from the wondrous new being who was his daughter, to the smile of Falling Leaves, which seemed to fill the room in the same way that The Great Spirit’s love did. Red Squirrel knew that he was on sacred ground. He wondered why more of the men of his tribe refused such an honor, for that is what it is to witness such a miracle! Miracles were accepted in just the same way as one would accept a sunny day. Such was life in Red Squirrel’s tribe. In fact, when they were younger, Red Squirrel and Falling Leaves felt that they should wait until a sign from The Great Spirit told them that what they felt, could be consummated in Ceremony. They waited together each day for the sign, not knowing in what form it would appear. It was the most difficult wait that young Red Squirrel ever remembered. He loved Falling Leaves so much, that for the first time, he was having trouble keeping an attitude of acceptance in The Great Spirit’s plans, whatever they might be. He thought he would burst by the time the answer came, but come it did. The wait had taken its toll, not only on Red Squirrel, but on Falling Leaves as well. Both, without the other’s knowledge, had decided to slip off to their secret place, in Grandfather Pine, to raise their spirits. They met each other about half way. Falling Leaves looked sad and vulnerable, like a scared little girl. Red Squirrel’s heart went out to her; he hated seeing her hurting or afraid. He was very protective of the little girl that he saw in her eyes and heart. As they neared their special place, they discovered that they both were interested in seeing whether the eggs had hatched in a nest, high up in their tree. They had each noticed the nest on different occasions, having come to their tree separately. Suddenly, having spotted two intruders, Mother Sparrow Hawk took off in obvious resentment. Red Squirrel looked high up into the tree on the North side, while Falling leaves stared up on the South. In unison, they realized that there were two nests, one for each of them, but together in one tree! They didn’t have to question the meaning of this great and powerful sign. Together, in The Great Spirit they were one! Their Marriage Ceremony was magnificent! The sound of water gently flowing over a small rock falls, the little chirping noises of the chickadees as they chased each other through the woods, and the noise of small children playing quietly, all blended to create a mood that took one back to times of deep contentment. Deep golden sunshine, the reflection of white billowy clouds and turquoise sky on the rippling stream, and the flickering of sky and sun behind Spring-new oak leaves, all added a feeling of reverance and timelessness. Marriage Ceremonies were always held under the double oak – a single base and root system, but complementary trunks and crowns. It stood here, at the junction of Earth, Sky, and Water, as did Falling Leaves and Red Squirrel. Screeching Owl, their Medicine Man, stood before them, the stream to his left, the place of the rising sun behind him. Neither Falling Leaves, nor Red Squirrel were nervous, so powerful was the Presence of The Great Spirit, warmth and vibration in everyone’s chest. The very air sparkled! Silence decended upon their valley, as the words of the Ceremony were pronounced. Even the birds seemed to follow the Power that was called forth, only the stream kept moving; hearts beat to its rhythm. And so it was that they came to be joined.
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