Once upon a time in a not so far away place there stood a big Oak tree. It had been there for a very, very long time, so it was very, very old.
When it was a much younger tree, a great storm had swept through the forest where it stood. Of all the trees in the forest, only the oak had been damaged by the great storm, having been left a crooked, ugly tree. It was no longer straight and beautiful like the others, and it cried, but life went on.
In the Spring time it covered it's ugliness with new green leaves, and it felt beautiful again . . . but then in the autumn, the leaves turned to a pretty crimson cloak and the tree shook because it knew that soon the winds of the forest would sweep by and carry off it's crimson cloak and there would once again be nothing to cover it's ugliness.
Many Springs and Autumns passed . . . and with the passing years, the old oak tree began to feel hollow. It felt as if it's heart as well as it's body had been hurt. One late autumn day, when the oak was very old indeed . . . the wind sighed through it's bare branches, which made the old oak speak.
"No one wants me. I am of no more use in this world," whispered the oak to a world that did not listen.
One day a red headed woodpecker came to the oak and sat on it's old trunk. Tap, tap, rat-a-tap tap! He hammered away at the old oak tree. Tappity- tap-tap! The woodpecker hammered and drilled. He kept working until he had made a small round front door in the old oak. This front door led into a winter house which he made inside of the old oak tree. He had found himself plenty of food inside the oak . . . it was full of tasty fat little grubs for him and his family to eat when the cold days came. The walls of his house were warm. It was a snug and cozy place. Just perfect for the cold winter which lay ahead.
"Oh, how happy I am that I found this hollow tree." sang the red headed woodpecker.
And winter passed and once again the spring came and the old oak tree was dressed in it's fine dress of green leaves, and all summer long the leaves danced along it's branches, until once again autumn arrived and it's fine green dress began to turn into a crimson cloak and the old oak tree trembled because he knew what was next . . .
The red headed woodpecker returned to ready his winter home and beat his wings within the heart of the tree.
A few days later the old tree felt a tickle go up his ugly old gnarled trunk. Whisk! Whirr! It was a little red squirrel. He ran up the trunk of the old oak tree until he came to the round hold that was just like a little front window. The squirrel peeked inside of the hole. Oh how comfortable and snug was the little house that he saw! He lined it with moss. Where the bark stuck out, he made shelves. Day after day he filled the shelves with piles and piles of nuts, ready to feast upon when the cold days came. He was happy because he had a place to live, where he could be warm in his overcoat, and well fed. He would be safely sheltered within the heart of the old oak until the spring rains came.
"Oh how grateful I am for this hollow tree," chattered the little red squirrel.
Then a very strange thing happened to the tree . . . the beating of the wings of the red headed woodpecker and the happy heart of the little red squirrel warmed the hollow heart of the old oak tree, and it filled with joy.
Instead of sighing in the wind, the old oak tree's boughs sang with happiness. The fall rains had left tears on the ends of it's twig like fingers, but now with the winter's cold, they turned to glittering diamonds until it's twig hands were covered with them. The snow fell and covered it's ugly twisted body with a cloak of soft white down, and the starlight at night and the sunshine in the day set a crown of sparkling jewels upon it's head, and in all of the forest there was no tree which was more glad or more beautiful than the old oak tree.
I hope that you enjoyed this little story here today. There is great beauty and worth to be found in all the seasons of our lives.
A thought to carry with you through today . . .
“And the beauty of a woman, with passing years only grows!”
In The English Kitchen today . . . Portugese Custard Tarts, with incredibly flaky crust and rich lemon custard filling, these are to die for, and actually a lot simpler to make than one would imagine!
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And I do too!