As I said in my previous post, I will be sharing stories from time spent with trees. The assumption I was given to make about specific animal or tree kinds mentioned in the stories was that the story is told from a regional perspective, meaning things as they happened or are understood by the trees of this specific region. For example, the “cherry tree” referred to in this story probably is not representative of all cherry species or even the same species that grows in a different part of the world.
Yesterday and today, the weather in this area of Michigan has briefly become milder with warmer temperatures (and by warm I mean above freezing), little to no precipitation, and sunshine. It presented the opportunity to make a much-need trip to the park.
Once arriving to the park, it felt like the best way to become reacquainted with the energy there was to walk the full perimeter and make stops as necessary. This route brought us through a wooded area at the southernmost end of the park, near Visionsong. This pathway was flooded and mosquito-infested for much of spring and summer this year, so we have not been down this pathway much.
Most of the trees in this wooded area are American Beech or Black Maple hybrids and some Black Cherry, Tulip Tree, Sugar Maple, American Basswood, Eastern Cottonwood, Bigtooth Aspen, etc. The park very recently put up waist-height posts topped with plaques that identify and give additional information about the tree it is placed near, a very neat educational project. Two of these posts were placed in this rather secluded path of the park, one for a White Oak (Quercus alba)and one for a Black Cherry (Prunus serotina).
Ever since I noticed these particular sign posts, I have made a point to visit with the two trees indicated. I love the White Oak’s beautiful and distinctively-shaped leaves, and the name I got from this particular one was Allienna (although I have noticed that the “name” a tree has can “sound” different to different people). No name from the Black Cherry as of yet. A Black Cherry is most easily identified either by its dark fruit or its dark bark, the bark appearing like burnt potato/corn chips. I approached Allienna meaning only to spend a moment or two saying “hello!” as I do with trees, usually by placing one or both hands on the trunk, but today was a bit different than the last couple visits. She usually responds with a very strong ‘hug’-like energy, but this was not just a hug. It was more of a tug, as if I was being pulled in. My hands felt magnetized to the bark and I stared up into her branches feeling something like mild vertigo. As a ‘thank you’ for stopping by, it seems I was to be given a story. It went like this…
This is the story of the Darkening of the Cherry.
There was a dainty, golden, fruit-bearing tree people all across These Lands (North America?), and they were beloved of all the plant-eating animal peoples. Their seed was spread far and wide, and they were coveted even by the human peoples. Their flowers were a delicate white, their wood and lattice-patterned bark was lightly golden as was their generous fruit, and their shining leaves turned fiery shades of golden yellow to red in the Fall.
As the years turned colder and colder, the golden fruit tree people began to struggle and fade. They needed to grow taller and ever taller to get the sunlight they needed. Their fruit grew smaller and smaller, and all the animal peoples that once found the golden fruit sweet left the bitter berry-like fruit to rot save the bird peoples.
The flesh of the fruit and the flesh of the wood turned a deeper and deeper red with the furious determination of the once-golden tree people to live, strive, and thrive. The wood and bark turned darker and harder, the bark appearing almost like flat, ragged, black or dark red stone.
Even after the cold of These Lands had shifted to warmer times, the once-golden tree peoples would never again be the delicate, dainty trees they had once been. They were proud of how they had changed to become tall, hardy, and as bitter as the times they had survived through. The bird peoples still treasure the dark berry fruit during Summertime, and in the Springtime this darkened tree people still put out their delicate white blossoms, blossoming late as if reluctant to show the delicate reminder of their ancient past.