The story of the birch tree

Sagan om björken av H C Barregren. Illustrerad av Catherine Hesselstrand

Once upon a time there was a birch tree that was tender and brighter than any other tree. Her bark was smoother than the beech’s, her leaves rustle happier than the aspen’s, and her treetop was bushier then the oak’s.

”I’m so beautiful everyone should see me,” the birch thought, but she was overshadowed by some dark spruces. They discussed water supply with some pines that slowly shook their heads. ”I shall climb higher,” she thought and started moving up the hill.

There it was lighter and merrier. ”It’s easy to see me here,” she thought. But nobody noticed her there either. It was just young girls and stupid boys who talked and giggled about the stuff stupid girls and young boys giggle and laugh about.

She climbed even higher. There it was were packed with stooping old women and hunched men, weighed to the ground by life and the tormenting wind. They could not straighten them self up more then to see her trunk. They said she looked thin and should eat more, and that was that.

But now she was so high up she could See the top. It wasn’t a single tree there, only heather and grass. ”If I climb all the way to the top everybody will see me,” she thought, ”and then they will be happy.”

It took some time to get there, and the wind blew cold at the top, many of her leaves flew away, but now she was finally there. There everybody could admire her beauty. She stretched her branches and boosted her treetop. The sun shone her green and white and beautiful – and nobody was as fair as she.

Later that day a wind came sniffing over the neighbourhood. He snooped around the spruces and they closed ranks, like a wall without cracks. The wind got no foothold there. He found his way to higher ground and caught hold of the pines. Immediately he started shaking them, but pines has their roots deep into the mountains and cannot be budged that easily. Then the wind flew even higher and found the crooked birches, but the harder he battled with them, the closer they pressed down to the ground.

He flew over the treeline and played for a while with the heather that just laughed at him. And then he caught sight of the birch on the top of the mountain. He had never seen anything like that before. He flew straight to her and wind around her white trunk, got tangled in her black branches and played with her green hair.

”Thou are but beautiful, and thou I wanna married,” he said. ”Now, I will bring you to my kingdom high above the clouds and make you my queen.”

He swept the birch into the air. They swirled around in a swirling dance, all alone on the blue dance floor in the sky. ”Now everybody can see me and how beautiful I am with my handsome prince,” the birch thought as she windled to a dot in the distant blue.

Far below the trees hunched to the ground, waiting for the storm to abate, as they always do.

This fairy tale in Swedish: Sagan om björken.

Author: Hans Christer Barregren
Illustration by: Cathrin Hesselstrand.

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