Three Sprites, One Silent
|Photo: Larry Kollar, March 2009|
“Urrf,” came the response from the stump.
“Morning has broken!”
Morning Mist said nothing, and Gnarlbark soon poked her hoary head out of the hollow. Like the stump she lived in, she looked sodden and worn. “Every morning the same thing,” she grumbled. “And my answer is the same as it is every morning. I will not leave my tree.”
“And I will ask the same question I ask every morning: why? It is but a lifeless stump, surrounded by water. My water.”
“I will not leave. I will not give in to the humans. Or you.”
The naiad grinned. “Oh, pish. You speak of humans as if they are Evil Made Flesh.”
“Humans cut down my tree and drowned its roots. I have good reason to think such.”
“And the same humans dammed my creek, making this lovely pond. Have I not done well with what they gave me?”
Gnarlbark scowled. “Oh, yes. The humans are wonderful. They keep your pond so clean.” She glared at a can floating silent in the water nearby, an empty container for one of their horrid beverages. The can was green as a spring leaf, the greenest thing to be seen this winter morning. It was adorned with white spots and the human script that neither naiad nor dryad had bothered to learn.
“At least it’s aluminum.” Morning Mist gave it a playful slap, and the can flipped onto the weedy shore before slowly rolling back into the water. “Remember when they were iron?”
“All too well. I have felt their iron nails pierce bark and living wood. Their iron fencing…” She shuddered. “Humans bring pain to trees.”
“As do squirrels and birds. Humans are a force of nature, no matter how they may deny it. As are we. And they left plenty of trees just up the bank.” The naiad waved a dainty hand at the woods above them. “There stand many suitable oak trees that would welcome a dryad’s loving care.”
“Until a human cuts them down.”
“Or storm or beetle does the same. At least humans make use of what they cut.”
“And what use do they make of their aluminum containers, when they have drank their fill?” Gnarlbark gave the can a dark look as it floated toward them, rocking with the ripples and turning itself slowly. “Human refuse, have you any wisdom to impart in this matter?”
The green can said nothing, but fetched up against the tree in a gentle caress.
“It seems as if the can likes your tree,” Morning Mist’s laugh was the sound of a creek running over rocks. “Perhaps it is advising you to stay.”
“Then it indeed has some wisdom to impart.” Gnarlbark reached down and lifted the human thing from the water, holding it so the pond water could drain away. “As for us, naiad, we have our charges to attend to.”
“Indeed we do,” Morning Mist swam away, rippling the cattails along the shore as she went. “I will speak to you again with tomorrow’s sunrise.”
“We will be waiting for you here.”