Read an Excerpt
Kermudgie: The Spirit Bear Prelude
Jim Small liked reading bedtime stories to his children. He had done it for his boys, but they were now 14 and 11 and were past that stage. His two girls still liked having stories read to them and he could see them watching impatiently until he began. So he started:
How the Blue Spruce Got Its Name.
People hardly use their eyes, ears and other senses to keep in touch with the life around them. Some believe that animals don't think or have feelings. They do. Some people think that plants have no feeling. We do. The Indians believe that trees become human just as they are cut down. The human-like cry heard when a tree crashes to the earth is proof of this change.
I am a Blue Spruce and I'd like to tell you how we got our name. My earliest ancestor was very emotional and vain. She wanted to outshine her fellow spruce trees in the forest. She wanted to be different. She criticised the Black Spruce, the White Spruce, the Sitka Spruce and the other conifer and deciduous trees. She was jealous of the beautiful Red Maple, the Trembling Aspen and despised the Weeping Willow. She complained about the unfairness of her plight. She was a beautiful tree. Her profile was exquisite. She sucked up through her roots only the best elements of the soil. She only offered her branches to nesting birds if they would help her protect her bark and needles from burrowing beetles, gypsy moth larvae and other voracious pests. Squirrels could only take her cones if they promised not to leave a mess on the forest floor under her graceful branches.
She tried to make the Sun shine on her alone. She objected when the sunshine made her toohot and her needles started to dry out and brown. She asked the rain spirit to give her more water than her neighbours. She complained when her roots started to waterlog. She was never satisfied. She sent the passenger pigeons with pleas to Mother Nature to make her the most beautiful tree in the forest. Mother Nature was tired of her complaints and forbade the passenger pigeons to carry her grievances. My ancestor soon became an outcast.
She ignored the whispers in the wind over her behaviour. To her the drab colour of dark green clashed with her expectations of beauty. Everyone was green. She was a snob.
In the autumn she complained loudly when the deciduous trees coloured their leaves in yellow, orange, red and gold. She belittled the Larch for becoming yellow, from failing to keep his needles and following the example of the lowly deciduous trees. She browbeat and made fun of their nakedness when winter approached. Everyone hated to hear her comments.
Life is precious and no one can take a life unless it's part of the overall plan. Birds can feed on insects, wolves can feed on deer, but all this follows the plan of survival. To kill a tree because it complains too much is forbidden. Mother Nature would never allow it. All the tree species begged Mother Nature to do something. The weather spirits were called in for their advice. No solution seemed possible unless the laws of Nature were broken.
Blustery Winter and the North Wind reacted angrily when my ancestor complained that she deserved a gentler wind and a warmer winter. She didn't like the snow smothering her branches and weighing her down. She didn't like ice crystals drying out her bark.
Together Blustery Winter and North Wind turned their anger on her. Their powers of cold and chilling wind froze her protests. Her words of complaint stopped and gradually her needles turned blue with the cold. Everyone cheered the new silence. Mother Nature turned and looked at the blue frozen tree and was satisfied with the change and made it so for all time.
My ancestor never complained again. No longer was she an 'Ordinary' spruce. Maybe she learned a lesson. Somehow I doubt it. I believe she was very happy with her new colour. This is how we became known as 'Blue' Spruce."
Georgina had listened intently to the story. "Do you really think trees and plants have feelings?"
"Well there are many who believe they do. Some of the Indian legends tell that animals and plants were responsible for creating the earth. Man is just another animal and he has to earn his place here. So maybe this story is true. I just think it's interesting," Jim said.
Meghan yawned. "I liked the story; I think the spruce was rather selfish and she was lucky that she only turned blue. Can you read us another story tomorrow night?"
Jim tucked them in and gave each a goodnight kiss. "Maybe, if I find a really good one. Goodnight. Sweet dreams."