Once upon a time, a little tree was planted in a park that was filled with a lot of other trees. It was planted as part of a program to introduce variety into the park. As the little tree grew, it watched people pass by and admire all the grown trees, because they bloomed with beautiful flowers every year. As a young tree, it only produced leaves, but the leaves were a brilliant green, and children became mesmerized by the little one.
One day, when the little tree was nice and tall, a little boy came along and stood for a long time in front of it. By now, it was blooming beautiful flowers every year that wilted and fell to the ground like snow when late spring rolled around. With the flowers in full bloom, the boy stood under the tree, and left for home after many hours. He came by every day, sitting under the little tree, preferring it over the ones that provided more shade, or with different flowers.
When winter had passed, the little boy came back and saw the little tree, which was blooming again, and stood, admiring it. But instead of sitting under the tree, he walked away and went to another one, which was just as tall as the little tree, but bloomed with different flowers. The little boy spent most of the season with this tree, giving the one he used to like one day a week. Soon, the little tree didn’t see the boy under its branches anymore -- he spent all his days with under the other tree.
One day, after the petals had fallen, the boy came back to the little tree, and stood under it for a long time. The little tree wished its blooms has not fallen yet.
As it grew dark, the boy’s mother called out to him.
“Russell! It’s time to come home, now!”
And the little boy named Russell, before turning away, grabbed a branch from the little tree, snapped it off, and ran home with it. And the little tree watched the little boy run home, with sap slowly dripping from its broken branch.
When the heat of summer came, the little tree lost all of its leaves, long before all the other ones did. The park workers watched sadly as the little tree became bare, but they decided to let it recover. So the world passed the little tree, sure that it was just sick.
“Look at that little tree,” the people said. “Disgusting little thing. They should take it down; it’s ruining the park, looking like that.”
“It’s the tree’s own fault,” said one little boy. “I talked to Russell once, and he said that it made less flowers last year. He said it was sick from the start. That’s why he stopped liking it.”
No, the little tree wanted to say. I made even more than ever last year. It’s not my fault I’m sick.
But trees, alas, cannot talk, and so the little tree continued to be bare, for many years. And as more people passed by the tree in disgust, the little tree started to think that its sickness was its own doing. After all, no matter how hard it tried, it just wouldn’t bloom when the season came, despite the sun or the rain, or the weather. Nothing, it seemed, could make this little tree bloom again.
One day, a different little boy stood in front of the tree in the spring, just as the buds were starting to form throughout the park. After regarding it carefully for a while, he sat underneath it and began to read a book. When his friends came over, asking him to play, he declined the offer, preferring to read.
“Then pick a different tree,” one of his friends advised. “This one is ugly. And it doesn’t get leaves anymore. They’re going to take it down soon, anyway.”
“No, I like this tree,” the boy replied simply.
The little tree was scared, but it slowly produced a few buds. By mid-spring, when everyone was flowering, the little tree had a few leaves. Small, but brilliantly green. The little boy continued to sit under the tree, every day.
The park workers saw this and rejoiced, and they decided that the little tree was beginning to recover, and that they wouldn’t have to take it down. Still, the little tree, still wary, lost its leaves, before all the others. Despite the rumors spreading again that it would be taken down, the little boy read under it every day, until winter came.
When spring came again, the boy came back, happier than ever to see the little tree still standing. As he had done the year before, he read under the tree, and it became so happy, that it pushed as hard as it could and bloomed in full force by mid-season. It was the most beautiful tree in the park, and when others came to admire it, the little boy just smiled.
To this day, the little tree continues to bloom with beautiful, fragrant flowers every year.