Once, she had left her tree often. She would escape the wood and sap that was home and other self, venturing forth in leaf patterned sunlight, sometimes starlight. She would go forth and watch them, the humans, scurry about their business. Funny little creatures, those humans. At least, that was what she had thought, with the arrogance of inhabiting/sharing with an oak. It was not until they cut that oak down, barely leaving her essence time to flee to a nearby beech, that she understood.
The humans killed trees wantonly, almost at random, chasing her from tree to tree until she merged with a tiny maple, a mere sapling that, in better times she would never have deigned to even consider as a dryad’s home. This tree, strangely, they left alone.
Now, she rarely left her tree. Only a few, quick years passed when the humans turned even stranger, impossible as it seemed. They threw rock down, everywhere their metal monsters passed. Strange rock, first only pebbles, then stones, and finally evil smelling tar. And the monsters increased their speed, their noise, their presence. She had little encouraging to say of the humans and their beasts. The air improved, but everything else declined. The rain, the noise, even night and day. All turned bitter and sour, biting back at Nature rather than rejoining it.
It was many years, her maple long since grown past a sapling, when she left her tree again. It was then that she discovered the true evil of the humans, their purpose in putting down the tar. She could not cross it. The rock was everywhere, pinning her in to a few scant trees, all even older than her maple. If it died while her essence still lingered within it, she would die as well.
An immortal. The spirit of the local trees. _DIE._ Once, that had been an impossibility, the mere thought sacrilege. And now, the humans were going to kill her.
She fled back to her maple, sulking there for several more years. In that time, the humans put one of their markers by the tree. It was a brightly painted metal strip, lofted on a limbless metal tree. Mockery.
She spent much time attacking it, battering away with her limbs, but the humans had planned well. The metal ignored her strikes at best. At worst, she herself was the injured. After much if this, she retreated and began to plot.
Even this proved fruitless. After a brief time, even her immortal patience worn thin by futility, she decided instead to take the humans’ marker. If they wished her to be known to all, it would not remain so. She reached out, grabbing the metal strip and pulling it closer, making it a part of her maple. Soon, it would be totally gone. They would not mock her!
But even as she clutched the sign close, they returned, and removed the former metal tree. They left her the sign, only to plant two more signs, one even larger than the last! This one, brilliant red and white, would tell all of her doings. And it was clearly too large for her to hide like the current strip she clutched. Well, so be it. If they must mark her, let it be the large one that would tell of her deeds. Not some puny, insulting _label_. She reached forth once more, determined to rip away the second metal strip....
In my hometown, at the intersection of Mohegan Drive and some street who's name I don't know, there's a nifty tree I've been watching since I was seven or so and Dad used to drive past us it every time we went food shopping. About 6 feet up, there's an old street sign that's stuck, literally, into the tree. After Tyr's funky tree fic the other day, this one sorta demanded to finally be written. Just a little explanation of why it's there. 'Cause it's just damn cool.
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