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Ayla kneeled and slipped her hands into the shovel's full of dirt she had pilled at her side. She placed the hand full of soil into the hole and tamped the rich mud lovingly around the small roots of young willow cutting which she had taken from her favorite tree at her valley home.  She asked the nature spirits to bless the young tree and keep it safe.

It was a wonderful new world for Ayla and her tiny tree.  Both were putting it all on the line and setting their roots into no mans land.  She would bring the water and the tree would give her shade.  A good trade to be sure. (来源:专业英语学习网站 http://www.EnglishCN.com)

As she tamped the last bit of soil in place and soaked the young trees roots she thought to herself, "This is to be our new home forever."  And the story begins.

The little willow grew tall very fast, and in a couple seasons stood by and watched as the goat's hay barn went up.  The willow stood high on its roots trying hard not to let its branches touch the ground.  What was that woman thinking when she put that goat so near?

The little tree's fears were justified and just when it reached the seventeen foot mark, the goat ate it back to it s scrawny little trunk.  Now it would have to start the climb all over again.

And so it did.  And all the while it watched as the woman planted the other trees, grass, flowers and   gardens. The willow watched all the animals come and go, it tended the kittens, kids and children.  The willow stood by the night Lady Savanna's the triplets were born and gave her comfort and care when one did not make it. 

People say that the willow is the tree of sorrow, but that tree knew the tears and laughter of the whole forest. 

In a few more seasons it was towering over the barn and the goat with not one care in the world. Year after year it grew taller and taller, just drinking up the cool water and basking in the sun. 

Then came the years that it stood covered in ashes and faced the raging flames of the forest fires that stripped the land all around us.  Yet, we survived.

Over the years the tree had made many friends. It was happy to give shade from the smoldering heat of summer and high rise protection to all manors of birds, the squirrels, and owls that live close by.  

In the fall it was the first to start the wind dance.  Each year it would raise its branches high into the air and dance with the big winds while its companions swayed to and fro.

All the children loved the tree.  From their very beginnings they would spend many wonderful days riding the tree swing far out over the cliff and hi into the sky.  And of course the willow was one of the first things that all the grand children came to know and love. The echo of the joyful screams lingers in the old wood long after the children have grown and their children gone home. 

A few years ago I noticed that it was not getting the proper leaves on its upper most branches.  I attributed it to a very hot and dry year.  I thought with the new rains it would be able to sustain its need for water. I was wrong, and today I had to declare it dead.  I called for the wood cutter.

I recognize that it is just a tree, but, I feel like a part of I has been cut away.  It is such a big hole in what I am familiar with.  It has protected me from the hot summer sun for twenty five years.   From a tiny cutting it grew to a grand tree before my eyes....and now it lays broken upon the ground while I grasp for words to describe the feelings. 

I thought that tree would live for a hundred years after I was gone. 

 
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