Old Tree Finds a Friend
It was early spring by the shores of Silver Lake. The quiet earth was waking up from her long winter's sleep. Green shoots were peeking out of the ground and buds swelled on the branches of the apple trees. Grandmother Winter had knitted one last blanket of snow over the land in the meadow. The animals were building their homes for their babies to be born in spring.
One apple tree stood all by himself at the edge of the meadow. He was the oldest of all the apple trees and he lived all alone. His trunk was crooked and leaned down towards the earth. There were no buds on his branches. Underneath, his bark peeled and fell to the ground.
As he watched the other trees fill with nests of robins and squirrels, he bent his head down low. He too wanted a friend to make a home in his trunk. "Who will come and visit me?" he wondered. "My bark is old and rough and I have no soft, green buds anymore."
Just them a white tailed rabbit hopped by. She was looking for a home. She leaned against the tree, trying to burrow herself inside and feel cozy. "Oh, this tree is too rough for me" she said. "My fur is so soft. I will itch and scratch on this tree." And off she hopped to find a softer home.
A little while later, a mother lady bug gently landed on the tree. She too was looking for a home for her babies. As she crept along the brown bark, she cried "this bark is too brown for me. My pretty shell is much too shiny and it will show up too much against these dark brown walls. I need a home where I will feel safe and no one can spot me. And away she flew in search of a more colorful home.
Molly mouse scurried along the bark of the tree, looking to settle in to the right home for her babies that would be born that spring. Her soft whiskers brushed against the rough, dry bark. She looked for a little pond of water to bathe in but could not find any. "Ooh" she cried. "This tree is much too dry and far away from the pond, where I like to collect my thistle down from the milk weed pods. I must find a home closer to the pond." And off she ran in search of water.
"Goodness me" thought the tree. "Who will make a home in my trunk? Surely someone will come and keep me company this spring. His trunk sagged a little lower to the ground. He felt sad and lonely. Some of his bark even peeled off and fell to the ground. As the sun set in the evening, he bent his head down low and cried himself to sleep.
The next morning, a mother spider awoke early. She crawled along the bark under the old apple tree. She carefully looked at all of the nooks and crannies inside the rough, dry bark. "Ooh" she said to herself. It is nice and quiet here. Far away from other creatures. I won't be bothered here and I can spin my web in peace. The walls are dark brown, just like me! I could hide safely in here and no one would find me. And just look at this scratchy bark! It is just right for me to build my web onto. It will attach well to the rough edges and be strong and sturdy against brother north wind. This is the perfect house for me!"
And so, Mother Spider set to work, busily spinning her web. She carefully crafted each thin strand and her web stuck strong to the bark. The old tree watched with wonder as the silvery, delicate web came to life. And as she finished weaving her last thread, tiny dew drops collected in the web and they twinkled and shone in the morning sun.
The old tree smiled at those sparkling jewels and said "thank you dear spider. You are just the friend I have been waiting for.Your web is so fine and delicate against my scratchy, old bark. How I delight in watching you spin and weave. And the fresh dew drops remind me of when I was a young and supple tree. You have made me happy in my old age." Looking up towards the sky, he stretched his trunk up high and smiled at Father Sun.
And so, the spider and the tree lived together that spring. The old apple tree shared stories of his past years in the meadow and the spider spun stories of spring times yet to come.
written by Christine Summerfield/March 2016