Why do Trees Lose their Leaves in the Winter?
A retelling of a Cherokee Legend
This week’s blog theme is Leaves.
Here is a retelling of a Cherokee legend about why trees lose their leaves in the Winter.
When cold weather arrives, birds fly south to warmer lands. There, they stay, warm and comfortable, until the cold winter passes and they can return home.
Long ago, all the animals and plants understood each other’s languages. It was in that time when Father Sparrow became injured. It was soon time for the weather to turn cold which meant he and his family soon would fly south. He knew they would never survive the ice and cold of a frozen world in winter. But, he also knew that he himself, wounded and weak, could not make the long flight.
Father Sparrow sent his family on their journey south.
“I am sure the trees of the forest will help me,” he reassured them as they spread their wings and departed, sad to leave him behind.
Sparrow walked into the forest and stop at the base of Oak. He looked up, and asked,” May I spend the winter with you, safe and secure in the warmth of your branches and leaves, oh Oak? I am too weak and hurt to fly with my family south. I will not survive to see them when they return in the Spring unless I have protection.”
Oak looked down at Sparrow. Oak was old and cantankerous. He did not like the idea of having a guest in his branches during the winter. He wanted to spend the winter by himself as he always did. “Um, I don’t think that will work,” he said to Sparrow. “I like to have the peace and quiet of the cold weather to myself, and don’t like company.”
“Oh,” said Sparrow. He didn’t know what to say. Oak was his friend, and it made him sad to think that Oak did not want to help him survive the winter.
Sparrow walked a bit further. He came upon Maple and asked her if he could spend the winter in her branches.
Maple thought for a moment and then replied, “I don’t think so, Sparrow. I like to have the winter all to myself, and I really don’t want anyone staying with me.”
Sparrow was very sad to be told no again. He walked further into the forest, asking every tree he came upon. Each one turned him away. Sparrow was filled with despair that he would die and not be able to see his family in the Spring.
Finally, Sparrow came up to Pine Tree. “Oh, Pine Tree, could I please spend the winter in your branches for shelter? I am weak and wounded and can’t fly south. I will die if I don’t have protection through the frigid winter.”
Pine Tree looked at Sparrow. He looked at his own branches and leaves.
” Sparrow, my leaves are so thin and small. They will be like little needles surrounding you. But, my heart feels sad for you, and so, you may share my branches and whatever leaves I have with me for the Winter.”
From high above the forest, Creator looked down and saw what the Trees had done. He called them all together for a meeting.
“Oak and Maple, you have been given so many beautiful leaves and branches. You have been blessed, and yet, you will share nothing with Sparrow when he needs your help. Because of this, when cold weather comes from now on, your leaves will all die and fall off. You shall spend the Winter without them.”
Creator turned next to Pine Tree.
“Pine Tree, you are willing to share the small leaves you have with a friend in need. For your kindness, you may keep your green leaves throughout the cold Winter.”
And so, walking through the forest in Winter today, you will see the bare branches of Oak and Maple and all the other trees who turned down the request of Sparrow.
But Pine Tree will remain green and full of leaves all year round.
Make up a legend of your own about why the Trees lose their leaves in the Fall.
Have a great day!