Once upon a time, a baby boy floated down the river in a basket.
His cries drew the dryads, who lived by the river in their silvery grove.
They pitied the poor boy. As they gathered him in their arms, his cries stopped, his eyes wide with wonder.
The dryads decided to love him and raise him.
The dryads were peaceful and kind, and guided him gently as the boy grew.
And everyday, the dryads tried to teach the boy about the cycle of life of the forest around them. But the boy was young and human and just wanted to play, for the forest was simply his home and kingdom.
One day, the oldest of the dryads decided she was ready to go on.
Her skin was unlined, her eyes unafraid. With a great sigh the old dryad stretched up her arms and became a tree, adding to the many that formed their grove.
The boy stopped playing and watched. He went to the tree and pressed his ear to the trunk, but the old dryad had already gone, and now only slept quietly.
He did not understand why she had left, and began to cry, wanting for the old dryad to come back. But she did not, and the boy’s cries echoed throughout the grove as the other dryads looked on.
The years passed, and the boy grew into a man.
One day, he saw smoke rising in the horizon, and he knew a great fire was coming.
The man rushed back to the grove to convince the dryads to flee. But the grove was their home, and their roots bound them there. They could not flee.
The man then wanted to fight. His face grew dark as he considered the violence before him. But violence was not the dryads’ way, and they did not want the boy to fight.
The man asked desperately how they could be so unafraid, and his fearful face shone with the child he once had been.
The dryads did not answer except with sad smiles, for they knew the change was coming and were not afraid.
They embraced their human child sadly, gave him water and berries, and sent him away as the fire drew closer.
With a heavy heart, the man looked back at the grove that was his home. As the last of the dryads drew up into a tree, the grove became awash with flame.
Time passed, and eventually the man returned to the grove. The fire was gone, his home and family were gone, and now only ash remained.
The man sank to his knees and bitter tears fell from his cheeks into the ash. Slowly, ever so slowly, a tiny sprout unfurled, curling up to the sky.
The man could not believe his eyes. But the sprout gave him hope, and now his tears were from happiness.
And the sprout was nourished by those thankful tears, and before the man grew an enormous elder tree that stretched high above him, even higher and more beautiful than any of the trees that were there before.