Laughing Beauty Gets Her Name- a story from Bangan Forest by Laurie Fraser

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I lived with a pretty little cherry tree for 18 years. The poor thing lost a third of herself in an ice storm. She was beset by tent caterpillers and two spring floods. I used to do healings on her- that’s how I learned where her heart was located and what her roots were doing.- and her health improved. I used to see gnomes on her in Spring (and throughout the backyard all year). I called her Laughing Beauty.  I miss her.

An aborist once yelled down to me from up in her branches where he was picking off caterpillers:

“Shoulda never bin planted. This species don’t belong here.”

“Oh!” I answered, surprised. Then, “Shhh! She can hear you.”

Laughing Beauty Gets Her Name.

“Shoulda never bin born!” shouted Wise-ass Weasel every time he walked by. “Ya hear me? Shoulda never bin born, ya Weakling.”

Weasel was nasty, but he was right. What was fragile Cherry Tree doing here at Northeast’s place, anyway? Bangan Forest, this place of four seasons and abundant water, was home to Maple, Oak, Aspen, Birch, Pine, Spruce and Cedar. They could handle Deep Winter; Cherry belonged to warmer climes.

How she got here was easy enough to guess. Perhaps someone in Crow’s family brought her up here when she was just Cherry Pit, like a jawbreaker stuck in his craw. Cruel, really, to transplant her here from South; she was handicapped from the start. Soil didn’t agree with her. Rain came far too often. Well, really, she wouldn’t mind his visits, if only he didn’t outlast his welcome the way he did, sometimes raining day after day, leaving her up to her ankles in Puddle. Then, barely time to dry out and Freeze would set in far too long each year.

Yes, Weather was the main problem- the ongoing stress of it. Cherry Tree’s branches were weak, and her reach was limited compared to her neighbours. They were good to her though; she’d never manage without them. Evergreens protected her from North Wind, and Spruce did what she could on Cherry’s Eastside. Trees gave space for Cherry to have some access to Sun, but it was never enough for Cherry.

“I want more time with my father,” she demanded.

“Sun is not always around,” her mother pointed out. “He’s Down South, at work.”

“Why can’t we move there? It’s too cold and wet here. Dark is always showing up early. Who asked him?” said Cherry, one branch on her hip.

“Our roots are here,” said Mother Earth. “You can’t just uproot and run. You’re in Tree Family.”

“I hate Tree Family,” yelled Cherry.

“Choose Peace,” said her mother. “Tree Family is all that you have between yourself and death. Without your neighbours, you’d freeze in Deep Winter.”

“I know,” said Cherry. “I’m sorry, but I didn’t ask to be born here. Am I some sort of bird’s joke?”

“No, Darling,” hummed Mother Earth, her heartbeat getting louder. “I love you. I love you. I love you. You’re a freak of Nature. I love you. I love you. I love you. You are Precious Beauty.”

And that was when her name changed from Cherry Tree to Precious Beauty.

In Spring, Sun came around to spend more time with his daughter. Under his benevolent gaze, she flourished. Bare branches sprouted small shiny green leaves. She quickly budded too, and then burst into blossom when other trees were just opening their leaves. Her fragile flowers were white and grouped together like clouds.

When Precious Beauty’s magnificent white blossoms became hard orange cherries and then reddened to luscious ripeness, they were devoured by every creature from squirrels to starlings. Her main branches became thoroughfares, vibrating with traffic. Those vibrations made her giggle.

Have you ever heard a tree giggle? Oh my goodness! Once you hear that, you never forget.

Precious Beauty loved feeding birds and rodents. They almost always thanked her for sweet cherry snacks, and Beauty felt important. More than that, she felt loved. Oh, she was happy! She giggled all day long as little claws and toes tickled her branches. It was wonderful to feel appreciated.

“You see?” asked Mother Earth. “You are needed here, in this place. Indeed, you are a blessing to these critters who squabble and scramble all over you. You fill their tummies with fresh fruit, and they are nourished. There is no more important work, my Precious Beauty, than to nourish another being.”

Beauty understood that it was her time to flourish. She threw her arms up toward Sky and laughed out loud. Her heart opened even wider. Joy flew all around her leaves. Beauty’s raucous laughter joined the birds’ racket. The hullabaloo caused more cherries to burst forth and more birds to come and feast.

It was a party and it lasted a boisterous 18 days. That was when Precious Beauty’s name changed to Laughing Beauty.

Mother Earth kissed her roots all over. “Congratulations, Laughing Beauty. You’ve contributed to your community. Now you can rest with a full heart.”

Beauty nodded with Wind. “I’m going to take a little nap with Summer.”

As Laughing Beauty settled down with Summer, she noticed that other trees’ branches were finally fully clothed in giant leaves. Trees encircled her… without crowding her, as all good family should. Their roots reached out for hers with news- sometimes gossipy news (Wise-ass Weasel married and moved to the other side of Forest) and sometimes important news (Gnomes looking for work).

Laughing Beauty rested most of Summer’s time. Her fingers reached up to her father, and she grew a bit. Her toes reached down to her mother. As she stretched her roots, digging deeper into Soil, she wrapped around other tree roots, deepening her family’s network, spreading Love. After all, Roots hold Mother Earth in their arms.

Every day, Beauty felt her mother’s heartbeat coming up through her roots: “You are loved. You are loved. You are loved.”

And she answered with her own heartbeat: “I am home. I am home. I am home.”

2 thoughts on “Laughing Beauty Gets Her Name- a story from Bangan Forest by Laurie Fraser

    • right at the base of the trunk- halfway in earth and half out. Beauty’s heart had a treasure box filled with rubies in it.

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