A Story for Earth Day

by Vicky on May 16, 2011

Our Page Presents class for Earth Day was inspired by the book, The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest, by Lynn Cherry.

In this story, a forester begins chopping at the kapok tree, but grows weary and takes a nap at the foot of the tree.  While he is sleeping, a procession of birds and animals approach and whisper into his ear about their need for the tree and their wish for its survival.

For my version of the story, I changed the setting to a temperate forest.

Stuart dressed up in his Oak Tree costume, and I asked for a volunteer to play the part of the forester.

The succession of animals who came to whisper in the forester’s ear were Snake, Bee, Raven, Robin and Bluejay, Lynx, Weasel and Skunk, Rabbit, and Bat.

In the end, the forester spares the tree.

I introduced the story with a personal story about a time when I visited the Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle, where I encountered the most gigantic cottonwood tree that I have ever seen.  Its canopy came all the way to the ground, creating a completely enclosed space underneath the tree.  As I ducked under the branches, I could see that the huge roots created an inviting, armchair-like place to sit at the foot of the tree.  Nestling contentedly into the tree’s arms, I sat there for a long time.

Gradually, I became away of many rustlings, comings and goings, and general busyness in and around the tree.  I suddenly realized that the tree was a living high-rise condominium, the home for hundreds, if not thousands of beings.

Eventually, I came back to myself with a start, remembering that I had strayed away from friends who were probably wondering what had become of me.  I bid the tree farewell and hurried off in search of my friends.  On the way back through the park, I came upon a little boy, perhaps about three years old, communing with a small flowering tree that was just his size.  I stopped for a moment, because I saw that he had been captivated by this small tree just as I had been by the monumental tree.  His mother was standing back, letting him take his time.

How lucky he was to have a parent who understood how to support and cultivate the sense of wonder in her child—instead of rushing him off to see the next tree, and the next and the next.

“Nobody sees a flower really….We haven’t time, and to see takes time—like to have a friend takes time.” –Georgia O’Keeffe

After the story, Stuart took off his mask.  I told the kids that he had molded the mask on his own face, and I asked them if they could see the resemblance.  “Yes!  It does look like him! Oh!  I see it!” they cried.

Afterwards, the kids created beautiful tree bodi-puppets.

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