In a time when technology has fallen away, Islanders are rediscovering the ways of the forest. In a frenzy of excitement and discovery, two children, Rose Hip and Snowberry, have yanked quantities of moss and licorice fern from a tree. When a licorice fern-being named Sweet Root berates them for their lack of consideration, the children wonder what they might do to make things right. Enjoy the final installment. Previous installments can be found here.
Snowberry’s hands clench around the bundle of Licorice Fern root. Gazing back at the tree from which they’d taken the roots and moss, Snowberry thinks aloud, “Humans garden. Mam moves plants around. Maybe we can fix all this, Rose Hip. Maybe we can replant the roots and the moss, and return it to the way it was.” Snowberry doesn’t feel very hopeful, but they have to try.
And so they do. Snowberry and Rose Hip smear mud on the trunk and rebuild the soil layer. They work to replant the ragged moss. They work with all the attention they’d put into making the stick house for Rose Hip’s head. And in time, the little Licorice Fern community is somewhat restored. Snowberry takes some of the rhizomes – especially the long and hairy ones – and tucks them into the soil and moss, as if into bed.
As the sky between the trees darkens into red-gold, Sweet Root sighs with contentment. “That is fine. Please, no need to put all the roots back. Keep what you have left for yourselves. I’m sure you’ll find them to be more than enough for your family.”
Rose Hip holds up a few. “We could probably share them with the whole neighborhood – our human one, that is.”
At that, Sweet Root smiles, and with his hairy hands, reaches for the tree trunk and begins to climb. With each movement up, he grows smaller and smaller, but the greens and yellows and browns of his body and clothing grow brighter.
Snowberry remembers the cornbread. It’s all crumbled now, but Snowberry pours some onto a Big Leaf Maple leaf. “Wait, Sweet Root. Can I give you something to thank you? Do your people like cornbread? I want to thank you for your gift.”
Sweet Root grins. “The whole of the Greenwood enjoys gifts. Cornmeal is nice. So is song, so is your appreciation. So is your love and kindness. We are honored to receive your gift. You may sprinkle a little on our village, and leave the rest at the base of this tree.”
This Snowberry does. With the last light, Snowberry and Rose Hip make a beautiful design on the ground of cornbread crumbs, twigs, stones, and other things of nature. Then off they run, down the deer trail.
As they pass beneath the Red Alders, just before leaving the woods between the Rose and the Snowberry shrubs, Snowberry looks back. The shadows seem to form the shape of Bear. Kind thoughts fill the air, and a permission to Snowberry and Rose Hip that they may return.
Snowberry waves good bye – for now.