Aspen and Terra, A Tree Bird Tale
By Janina M. Carlstad
“Wow – look at
ALL of this food!!!” exclaimed the young nuthatch.
“It’s so peaceful
and serene here too!” he added. Ned’s little tufts of feathers blew
in the woodland breeze, while he and his sister, Nelly, poked about among the seeds of the bird feeder. The two white-breasted
nuthatches looked out upon their woodland world in wonderment.
Nathaniel Nuthatch pecked
at a sunflower seed and looked up at his son thoughtfully.
“It hasn’t always
been this way, you know,” he stated matter of factly. “this is a
backyard habitat. We’re safe here.
This food is here because we are visiting land that is set aside so that the woodlands will be safe for all who live
here. The people who own this land and forest want to preserve some green space
for others to enjoy, and humanity and wild lands can be shared for years to come. There
is much to be learned from the wild lands, you know.”
inquired Ned, watching a downy woodpecker land on the other feeder.
Nathaniel replied, “Oh,
that’s a long story… that’s a tree bird tale that perhaps I’ll share at
bedtime one night. In the meantime, let’s enjoy this peacefulness and safety…it’s
not something a bird can ever take for granted!”
Is that why there are so many birds singing here?” asked Nelly. “I can’t believe how many forest voices I hear all around!
And smell those flowers! Can we stay here forever!” She looked about
with her bright eyes.
at the trembling aspen leaves, tall shimmering trunks, and the woodpeckers and chickadees that flew amongst the woodlands. All around him, notes of orioles, thrushes, and grosbeaks floated on the breeze. Overhead, a pair of ravens croaked lustily, and a red-tailed hawk soared towards the
river. A squirrel chattered from out among the flower-bright forest floor, and
the warm aromatic scent of the forest refreshed his mind. Children’s voices
could be heard from the river flats, and a horse whinnied in the nearby pasture. Life
He turned to his fledglings
and replied, “Yes, daughter, I think we can stay here all year round. The
songbirds may come and go with the seasons, but we tree birds will stay. Many
other tree birds such as our cousins, the red-breasted nuthatch, the chickadees, the downy, and the hairy woodpeckers, will
join us here for the winter, too.”
continued to gulp down the seeds, cleaned their bills on the edge of the feeder, and continued looking about the yard, watching
for cats, dogs, or any other possible dangers… then they flew back to their favorite poplar trees, to scurry up and
down the trunk and look for insects.
As the sun’s
rays began to sink down behind the western horizon, the twilight breezes stirred the leaves in a quiet song, and the little
birds gathered to roost upon a branch close to the aspen trunks… Although
tired, they began to pester their father for his bedtime story.
Nathaniel. It’s a long story, but I think that as treebirds, it’s
a story you should know. It goes
something like this…” and he began to unwind a tale older than time while the little nuthatch youngsters snuggled
in to listen…
had many occupations. Symbol of the seasons… his fresh scent and green
leaves heralded the spring. Lush canopies housed summer residents and provided
shade. Fall’s golden leaves brightened darkening days and provided new
fertilizer for the forest floor. Winter trunks stood naked in the cold, but held
stark beauty and a reminder of strength in hardship. Aspen provided nourishment for countless creatures in his care, from the tiny mouse nestled
in its leafy bed at the bottom of his trunk, to the orioles which sang rich, jewel tones from their swinging nests, high in
his foliage. Ravens roosted upon his branches, protesting to the jays and all
who would challenge their existence. Aspen
welcomed the busy work of the tree birds… the woodpeckers, the nuthatches, the chickadees, juncos, and others who ran
up and down his trunk, picking and pecking at the pests which harried him....
tried to work with all of the elements to make earth become the best it could be. She set forth flowers of all sizes and colors in the spring – linnaea borealis, bunch berries, mossy
beds, whispering leaves, beckoning blades in flowering meadows and fields of thought.
By summer, Terra would have aided the new birth of countless animals and birds, had sent breezes through winding willows
and rippling rivers, and had worked with her trees and bushes to render the reddest of berries and most golden of grains.
She had left lumps of dirt for fox cubs to play with and anthills for bears to rip apart in search of food. By fall and winter, Terra embraced the downfall of organic materials within her earthen heart…knowing
that in such death there would be rebirth in the coming spring.
came and went. Chills of winter woodlands embraced the crisp snow, crackling
branches, icicles of light reflection…. and eventually, spring came again.
This spring, however, seemed different and somehow magical. The two who had always been together, grown together, nurtured
each other, found this year to hold a new season in their lives. Long had they lived, loved, born life, in the nature of things,
in the circle of life and creation, but somehow, within this season, this spring, with the blessings of the Creator, their
awareness of life and all around them brought them to human form for a time.
These are just excerpts from the novellette, "Aspen and Terra, A Tree Bird Tale". I hope you've enjoyed sharing