Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Why The Willow Weeps!

Once upon  a time, long ago, when the world was much much younger  there were not so many men and women roaming around at all, so the animals and the trees spent a lot of time together! Most animals knew that if man approached he was looking for his dinner, and most trees knew that man was looking for wood to make fire & carry things that he needed to survive! So  they were not suprisingly suspicious whenever he approached, running away as fast as possible or trying to be invisible-which if you're a 100 feet tall is quite difficult!
 One sunny day long long ago, in a valley with a lake ,a big herd of mammoths were munching the grass very quietly, which if you've ever seen a mammoth is quite a feat!
 Down by the lake Mama Mammoth was munching the tall grass and keeping a beady eye on her son, Jean Mammoth, who was quite small still, and tended to do lots of silly things like trumpeting his joy at being alive in the middle of the night which was not very sensible at all, as the huge tigers that lived there, called Sabre-tooth  due to their huge teeth, each tooth  as big as your hand dear Reader, were quite happy to hunt at night and would munch their way through a small mammoth like Jean as quick as Bob's your Uncle!
If I can remember rightly it  was late afternoon that trouble arrived for the herd, at least everyone had eaten lunch and were quietly grazing not taking too much care of their surroundings when BIG trouble arrived down- wind from the other end of the lake. 
Papa Mammoth was the first to smell the stink of the Sabre-tooth tigers , he snorted & snuffed the wind, and as he'd been Head of the Herd quite some time, he wasn't going to take any chances with his many wives and their children that he'd come to love so much.                            "MMMMM that smells bad, real bad he thought ! "
So he raised his mighty trunk in the air, shook his huge curling tusks from side to side and let out an alarm that would make a railway engine fall over!!!! The sound bounced off the walls of the valley, echoing across the lake, birds flapped off the trees, snakes slivered into their holes, horses ran fast as they could, even the fish dove to the bottom of the lake to hide!
It was far from the first time that the Mammoths had been attacked by some hungry animal,, Papa had some huge scars across his back where a flat headed wolf had jumped  and tried to eat him and most of his tribe had survived other attacks from very unpolite animals thinking they'd found a snack  or even a feast! So everyone knew what to do, except of course lil  Jean who was too young to remember the rules of war that Papa Mammoth preached sometimes when he had nothing else to do, a bit like Mum when she decides to tell you to tidy your room or wash your face!
The herd trumpeted, banged the earth under their hairy feet, shook from side to side their thick hairy coats,, waved their huge curly tusks at nobody in particular and formed a circle  so full of dust and noise that nobody noticed that lil Jean was not there in their midst!
Little Jean had heard his  Dad trumpet, seen the herd start moving, tried to run, but saw the way blocked by the approaching Sabre-tooth tigers and ran as fast as his litlle legs would carry him under the branches of the Willow tree which lived by the lake. Now the Willow at that time was a tall tree, noble, famous amongst trees for inventing new songs and singing them into the wind, so all the other trees could hear them, because we all know that the wind hears everything under the sun! His branches  were long, his leaves fell like a dress made of sequins shiny!  If   you wanted a comfy sleep, some shade and a song , there was no better tree than the  willow to rest under  and this Willow tree had a very soft spot for small mammoths like lil 'Jean.
 What a huge and horrible cacophony came from the herd, the ground shook, the lake had waves on it from so much noise, the air was ful of snarls and crunches and the frightening sound of the mammooths defending themselves with their mighty tusks!  lil Jean trembled, he kept moving behind the Willow's trunk to hide, but the roar of the battle kept finding him, and he shook and prayed to Something that his Mother would be fine.
 With his back against the Willow's Trunk he hides , and the Willow could feel lil 'Jean shaking like one of his own leaves on a stormy day and slowly the tree felt that he must do something to help the very small four -legged Mammoth under his shade. So very slowly to my eyes, but very fast for a tree (which do things so slowly that it dioesn't look like they're doing anything at all,) the Willow  pushed his branches down to the ground and soon Lil Jean was quite invisible and even the noise of the battle grew distant and quiet, so quiet that Jean fell asleep as little Mammoths do when life is calm, don't  you too?
Well the battle raged on for an hour or so, blood was on the wind, snarling tigers ; elephants trumpeting,, the trembling earth shook so much that even the scavanger birds like the vulture couldn't land at all, and when Papa saw one of his wives go down with three Tigers knawing at her meaty neck, he got so angry and so strong that he picked up one tiger after the other and threw  them with his huge curly tusks up in the air and smashed them with his huge hairy feet so much they slunk away in fear, snarling like angry cats do!
 Well ,Im not going to tell you of the wounds and tears and burials that had to take place, that's another story altogether, for another day, but when the Sabre tooth tigers ran away with their tails swishing about, leaving behind a few dead tigers too, Mama Mammoth went looking for Lil Jean, she couldnt see him anywhere, but her nose was huge and very good at smelling and soon she smelt her son under the Willow.
  Oh the tears of joy that were  many, so  many when they found each other again, tears a big as a pint of lemonade fell under the Willow Tree, and the Willow was so happy to see the joy between Mama and son, and soon other mammoths, that he quite forgot to push his branches back up into the air, he left them hanging down to protect whatever might need shelter from the storm and to this day the brancjhes of the Willow hide all who need  shelter, like you and I!

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