Native American Legends
Why the Trees lose their leaves
A Cherokee Legend
In the early times, the trees and animals were always able to talk
to one another. They lived close to each other and shared many things;
but every year, the cold time came and the birds would fly south
to where it remained warm and would return with their families in
the spring, when the warm season returned.
One year, as the cold season approached Sparrow was injured. He
would not be strong enough to fly to the warm lands with his family
by himself, so he made his family fly south to the warm lands without
Injured, he knew he would not survive the cold season. So he sought
the help the trees. He approached Oak. "Oh, Oak, I am injured,
and cannot fly, the cold season approaches, and if I do not find
shelter before then, surely I shall die. Please, Oak, let me shelter
among your leaves and branches during the cold times, that I may
heal and greet my family on their return in the spring."
But Oak was a crusty old tree, and did not relish the idea of having
a guest in the cold time, so he told sparrow: "Sparrow, go
find somewhere else to spend the cold time. I do not wish you to
spend the cold time with me."
And poor Sparrow was hurt in his spirit to be turned away.
So Sparrow went to Maple and asked her. "Maple, I am hurt
and not able to fly to the warm lands with my family for the cold
season. Please let me shelter among your leaves and branches during
the cold time, or surely I will perish. And Maple, though a very
sweet tree, did not enjoy the thought of a guest for the cold time
and she too, turned Sparrow away. "you,....., you go ask someone
else to shelter you, Sparrow. I do not wish you to spend the cold
time with me."
And again, hurt in spirit, Sparrow was turned away.
Sparrow went in turn to each of the trees and asked each for shelter
in the cold time; and each, and every time, Sparrow was turned away......
until there was no tree left to ask, except Pine.
With no hope left..., but not willing to accept death...., Sparrow
"Pine, I am injured, and not able to fly south to the warm
lands with my family. If I do not find shelter before the cold time,
I will surely perish. Please...., let me shelter among your leaves
and branches during the cold time..."
Pine thought to himself, ("I am the least of the trees, what
can I do?") ....but his heart heard Sparrow's plight. "Sparrow...
My leaves are tiny... more like needles... my branches are not as
many as other trees... but what I have you are welcome to share."
And so, Sparrow spent the cold time with Pine. And when the warm
times returned in the spring, Sparrow's family returned also. And
Sparrow had healed over the cold time and flew to greet their return..
Creator had seen and heard all that had happened between Sparrow
and the Trees. And Creator called a great council of the Trees and
spoke to them..., "You, who were given so much......, who had
so much, would not share the least of what you had with Sparrow
in his need. Because of this.., from this day forward, when the
cold time is upon the land, your leaves shall wither and die and
Creator then spoke to Pine. "Pine, you, who had the least
of all the trees, gave so much, have touched my Spirit. When the
cold times come, You of all the trees shall keep your leaves they
shall remain green through all the seasons for the gift you have
given me, through Sparrow."
And that is why, to this day, that when the cold time comes to
the land, all the leaves wither, and die, and blow away.... Except
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