(I want to hear it read)
None of her cat relatives thought it terribly odd that she spent all of her evenings in this tree. It was her home.
Her father had told the Clan Council the story the birds had told him. The tree had saved her life. Now her destiny and the trees were as two branches grown around each other and had become one branch.
There she lived high in the sky with the birds.
Many cycles of the moon had passed and she had grown strong. She did not need protection from nighttime creatures anymore.
But her father would often come to visit her. They had become friends. Each evening he would jump into the tree and climb up to the high sky branches to enjoy gazing into the celestial lights with his little girl.
One night while they were enjoying the moonlight in a very high branch overlooking the entire canyon, she asked her father if he was able to speak with this tree.
“Oh yes,” he said. “Ever since I was young. It all began because, like you I asked questions.”
She was surprised.
“Long time ago.” He said as he leaned back against the thick branch. “When I was a very small kitten I would curl up in my father's lap. He was my best friend. I remember how I looked up into those smiling eyes. Those eyes were filled with warmth. So much so that I wanted to know the thoughts that lived behind those glistening golden crystals of what seemed to me then, like two lights. I was curious about life. So I asked lots of questions.”
Her father paused. He was aware that normally, a young female cat would be raised by her mother to become a warrior and a nurturer. That thought caused him to feel sorrow. He missed his mate. He sighed.
But then he shook his head to step back into this moment with his daughter. He was telling her a story.
"Questions." he continued. "I asked my father an endless litany of questions."
"My father was great. He patiently, gladly answered them all until I was satisfied, and then I would ask another. "
He chuckled as he recalled.
“How do cats hunt for fish?"
"Why does the river always make beautiful sounds?"
"How far up can the birds fly?"
"Why are the trees so tall?”
"How do you catch a butterfly?"
Her dad closed his eyes as he remembered a time so long ago. “My father laughed and said that when he was just a kitten, he too had similar questions for his father. That would be my grandfather. His own father told him stories that began when he too was a kitten. Stories of how he became the clan leader. Eventually my father passed on the leadership to me."
He paused and looked deeply into her eyes. "One day, if you are ready, I will pass this leadership to you."
She stared at him. This surprised her. She, a leader...
She also noticed that in telling his childhood story how much his face was becoming young. Like before she knew him.
He laughed. “When I heard that I would one day be a leader,” her father said, “I had a hunger to know everything I could about how a kitten grows to be so big. So I asked him questions about everything I wanted to know. Everything he told me gave me a clue as to what I would do when I was faced with similar difficulties."
"Sitting in his lap, night after night my father told me stories about his own childhood and suddenly this very powerful cat was a kitten again; running, jumping, chasing butterflies, falling on his nose and laughing."
"Sometimes he told me warrior stories. How he was given the privilege of watching out for night owls that could swoop out of the dark sky and take away the little kittens who might wander off while the cats slept."
"He told me love stories about meeting my mother and forming a bond so strong, they became a little family and then I arrived."
"He told me friendship stories. How he would go on long adventures down the canyon to explore empty caves with his best buddy."
"Each story stayed in me so that when I needed some encouragement and wisdom for whatever difficulty I was facing, I would think about what my father had accomplished. Each story was leading me to grow strong and confident so that, if I was worthy, one day I would be asked to become the Clan Leader."
“The most important lesson my father taught me was how to talk to the trees. The trees, he said, will tell you everything you ever want or need to know. My father said that the trees will connect me to my greatest Mother, the Earth, and my ultimate Father, the Sky.”
“I then asked my own father what you are asking me now.” Her dad smiled as he continued. "How to talk to trees."
“Your grandfather said to me that I didn't need to try to talk to trees. The trees will talk to me. All I need to do is listen. The best way to listen is to first clear my mind, my father said. The fastest way to have a calm mind is with a heart filled with grateful thoughts. When I achieved that I could ask a tree anything. Your grandfather was right. I climbed this tree and when I became quiet, I asked the questions that occupied my heart. Sure enough, the beautiful answers appeared. After that talk, I felt very calm, and strong. My strength was connected to this big powerful tree."
"How do you become grateful?" she asked.
“It’s easy,” He said. He looked into his daughter's eyes and smiled. “You do it all the time. You climb into your favorite branch,” he explained, “and allow the moonlight to encourage you to feel glad to be alive.'
"As for me,” her father said, “I think about all the things that make me happy.”
“I start with my paws.” He lifted his paw to his face. “They have claws that disappear when playing with my child,” and he tapped her with the sound of a puff on the nose, “and then I make those sharp claws reappear when climbing rock walls, tree branches, or catching fish.” And his sharp pointed blades poked out of his feet pad.
“Then I look at my nose,” he said as he looked cross-eyed at the point of his pink nose. “I breathe in and notice the pleasant sweet smells from the tree. I breathe out and then inhale deeper smelling the wet spicy river grass. The dry dust from the rock wall. The moisture-rich air from the eternally splashing river.”
“Then I turn my face with eyes wide open," he continued, "and I look at all the shapes and colors floating around me,” he said as he turned his face left, right and then up into the night stars shining through the branches. “I notice the intense dark emerald green leaves under a silver moon.”
His daughter looked up into the same sky.
He looked down at the profile of his daughter's face looking skyward.
“What do you see?” He asked.
“I see the points of stars poking through dark shadows of branches surrounding one big round moon.” She smiled.
She turned her face down. “I see a silver ribbon of river light moving up the canyon like a beautiful dancing snake.”
She looked at her father's face, “I see my dad smiling at me.”
"What do you feel?" he said smiling.
“I feel the gratitude to be alive, so high up in this tree, under these stars, sitting next to my father.”
Her mind was very clear now.
He smiled and said, “Now you are ready to listen to your tree. Ask him anything you want to know. He’ll tell you.”
“And that is how I talk to trees.” He concluded as he stood up and stretched.
“As for me, I have to go check on the family at the cave.”
He pressed his forehead to hers and stepped down the branches like he was walking down a flight of stairs. Within two breaths he had disappeared from view. She continued to listen to the distant sound of his pads running across the branches and then, a hairs breath of silence, a jump, and the solid sound of four feet hitting the floor of a rock wall cave.
She leaned back down in her high branch and peered at the stars.
Her mind was clear. She thought of a question. One she had wanted to know the answer to for many moons.
“What’s your name?”
There was a quiet that filled the air. And then a breeze blew through the leaves making a humming sound. A voice, not her own, filled her thoughts. The voice was the sound of a male whispering the syllables; "Har-rey."
She sat up with surprise. She tried to say it. "Harry." She smiled.
With her eyes wide with anticipation she asked another question, equally as important.
“What is my name?”
The breeze in the leaves whispered with the sound of many voices. “Stella-Starlight.”
“Stella,” she said to herself. She purred.
She had been formally introduced to her tree.
A tree that had been her savior, her champion, her second father, her friend.
And his name was Harry.
Her purring grew louder. She looked up into so many stars surrounding a big moon and felt very, very happy.