We've been playing about with fairytales in my WEA group:
I am the big tree in the woods. I have been here for many thousands of years. My girth is very large, each year I get fatter and some years I get a little taller. Though generally I just get fatter. My limbs are long and fine tipped. My skin is smooth grey. In Spring time my leaves are lemon-green. In Summer, they are glossy jade. In Autumn, they turn a rich auburn and in Winter my skeleton stands out dark against the snow. I am home to many animals and insects. They creep and crawl and scurry about my branches. Birds build nests in my cleavages. Sometimes they peck or tap at me. But I don’t mind. I knew their great, great - many times over - great grandparents. I saw them as eggs, as chicks, I saw them take their first flight.
I am the old tree in the forest. I have been in this clearing for many, many years, quietly getting broader, until my branches bend and sway near the ground in the storm. I have been here for many, many years and now, suddenly, this two-legged has appeared, has dropped her wooden shed just opposite and wants to cut me down because I am blocking her light. Me blocking her light? She has spoiled my view with her nasty little dwelling and its tin roof, the smell of my burning brothers emanating from the chimney. She has already had a woodcutter, who she calls ‘son’, mark me up for the chop. That night I encouraged the wind to howl and crack at my fingernails. She got no sleep at all.
Here comes little Miss perfect in her red cape skipping round once again. Ostensibly to bring her grandmother tea, though she hardly stays for more than a few minutes, then she’s off, seeing her boyfriend, Mr Wolf. I cannot tell you what naughty antics they get up to hidden from view by my generous proportions. Surely they would miss me if I was gone? Today, though, I heard their whisperings. Her and Mr Wolf prised themselves apart long enough to talk about what they wanted to do in the future. They have dreams those two, to travel the world, but one thing holds them back: Granny in her barracks. Not only does Red have to do her duty bringing food over all the time, but the inheritance she needs to fund her globe-trotting was tied up in that little cabin which has invaded my clearing. If only Granny would move in with Red’s parents and sell her house. But no-one would want to buy that place, Wolf declared. No, only the insurance from it would do.
Then he began to examine me, walking round and round, measuring, estimating. Of course, he didn’t ask my permission, but I decided to co-operate. Better to lose an arm than my life. So when he came late at night to half saw through my branch, I bore it quietly, even though it really hurt. Then I made sure there was a good storm whipped up a week later which carried my fractured timber right across my clearing so that it crashed through Granny’s roof.
I could have killed her, but I’m not vindictive or malicious. And we all got what we wanted. Gran’s got a cosy bedroom with a view of the sea. Red and Wolf are half-way to Thailand. And me? I’ve got my clearing and my peace and quiet back.