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When Summer Warms the Hanging Fruit and Burns the Berry Brown

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Rúnar of the Vanyar 

In darkness I was born, in the woven shadows of the limbs of trees long asleep, under the cold light of fierce but distant stars, when all the world slept, save only the Elves. 

We were the fewest of the Three Peoples: we, the Vanyar, and they said we were born longing for the light. We gazed from the wild woods westwards, seeking the stars, since those small flames were all the light we knew. 

How then can I describe to you our coming into Valinor? How to paint in words a faint image of how it was to first behold Telperion the Silver with eyes that had seen naught but the shadowed world of sleeping trees, and far beyond, the stars? 

And then, as we stood in wonder before the leaves of silver, our faces turned up to the shining dew that fell from his shining white blossoms, then did Laurelin awake, and bring to life colours never imagined, the flame of her leaves blazing, mingling with Telperion’s light, brightening into shades of green and fire-yellow, innumerable shades of wild flame. 

Then did my heart turn to Laurelin, to the great heats of her honey-fruits, and I swore that I would walk always with Yavanna, she who brought Laurelin into the world, to learn from her the mysteries of singing radiance into being. 

I stood before blazing Laurelin, as close as I dared to the flame of her shining dews, and I held my hands up to Yavanna. She stood before me in form of the Mother of All Trees, her trunk vast, crowned in thorns, and though she was solemn in her majesty, joy ran over her like warm rain over leaves. 

My kin chose to build their city in the mountains, looking back east to the darkness, over the starlit sea. But my heart was given to the light and to the creatures and the trees of the land that flocked to it: a brilliance and a richness of life that I had never known.  

When I told my mother and father that I would go with Yavanna, my father wept and my mother went tight-lipped and disapproving, for I was their only living child, and they had thought that we would live together in Valinor, and that I would wed the child of their dear friends, who were of the Noldor. 

But I, young, careless and with my heart given to no-one, would have none of it. I would adventure among the wakened forests and jungles and plains of Valinor, and would not be stayed. 

I promised only to visit them, now and again, to tell of my adventures.

 

Minyen of the Quendi

Well then, come! Listen!  I’ll tell you a tale. 

I was born before the Sun - yes, the very Sun herself!  Can hardly believe it myself, sometimes. I think of all the days and nights I’ve known, and what!  A time when there were no days?  But so it was. 

Yes, yes, there were trees in those days. And stars, too. Such stars they were! Fierce and bright, you could walk for miles by starlight and see the tree-shadows stretching long in the starlight. But in those days, all the trees were fast asleep. You could hear them dreaming, if you put your ear to a trunk and listened careful, like.  

But you had to keep your eyes openl!  Dark things roamed those sleeping forests. We all learned to keep our wits about us. You should too!  Can’t be too careful, under Sun or under Stars, as they say nowadays. But in those days, there was the Hunter, and there were monsters who’d eat you up as soon as look at you. 

Anyway, that was all when we still lived up North. Long, long ago. But when I was still only small, my family decided we’d go travelling and see the world. We had kin who did that, long ago, or so my grandad told me. But they never came back, and we never heard no more of them, so we didn’t go West, the way they went. 

We went south.  South across the great plains under the stars. Ah, they shone fierce, those old stars, over the quiet empty lands, and when we sang, they sang too, just us and the stars together. 

But in a while and a while, we came down into the Great Forest, and there we found light that wasn’t starlight, and trees that weren’t altogether asleep.  The world is warmer here, perhaps that has something to do with it, and although there weren’t so many trees as there are now. Some of them were tall and broad beyond imagining, and they were decked with millions upon millions of tiny shining points of light, like trees of stars.  I miss them, the old star-trees. You don’t see those any more.

Listen! That was when we first heard of the Lady. She’d been here long ago, sowing her seeds and making her paths: planting the star-trees too, most like. Long ago. 

But she left some of her folk here, to guard the seeds and keep the trees, when she went away again into the West, see?  Aïssa was one of them. 

There she was still, old Aïssa, walking her paths and watching her seeds. She heard us singing as we came — ai, the sound of song under the old fierce starlight!  The Lady had told her about us, and so out she came to see what we were all about.

Dark and gnarled and tough as an old root she was, and nothing much to look at: small and hunched around like one of the seeds she tended — oh, and fierce angry if she thought we might trouble her work! “Fool Elves!” she’d cry, and wave her stick to chase us off. But her eyes were dark and deep as forest pools full of stars.  

She taught us a lot, old Aïssa did — when you could talk her into answering questions.  She taught us about the Lady.  She’s generous, the Lady is.  We learned that first, long before the Sun came to show us. 

She’ll load the trees with fruit so ripe and sweet that you can be eating it for weeks, fill the forest with food. She’s in the new grass springing after rain, in the hooves of antelope, in the eggs of jungle-fowl, in the spreading roots of yams. 

But I tell you what Aïssa told me: never forget this: the Lady can be a bitch

The Lady’s generous, yes. But she’s not always generous to you .  Sometimes, she takes in mind to be generous to the flies, or the maggots, or the black rot, or the crocodile. She’s there in the flowers, yes, but she’s in the soldier ants too. Sometimes her roots’ll grow right through your ribcage. So look out! 

 

Rúnar: Bright Days of Old

In that time, in the High Years of the Trees of Valinor, the forests of Valinor were unmatched: Yavanna’s home, her nursery, her mighty garden all in one.  

There were not so many Elves who chose to stay with Yavanna, in those earliest of days. More came later: many more.  But at first there were only a bare handful of us wanderers in the woods. 

But there were many of the lesser spirits. A few took the forms of Elves, though winged or horned or bright with rainbow scales. Others were tree-tall and branched, and others swift and bright-winged, or sliding serpentine and horned from tree to tree. 

Some of these we still know and have walked through the years side by side with the Elves, but others... others have changed and they no longer walk among us, at least in any form that I can recognise.

While  Arda slept, the great forests of Yavanna flourished in the light, filled with birdsong and the scent of flower and fruit. Through the treetops flew great brightly coloured birds, parrots in every shade of green, yellow, red and blue called and clowned in the tree-tops, bringing news to the Lady: a new tree has come into bloom , they cried in their strange cackling voices, and we would run to see it, to taste the fragrance on the air and see the boughs uplifted in joy to the Lady and to the Light of the Trees that she had made. 

But sometimes she would send us away from the light, to find out what was stirring in the depths of the wildwood, far from the distant light of the Trees.  There we found other treasures : secret green pools like great emeralds, ringed with roots and shaded by long leaves that shone green in the light and cast blue translucent shadows. And sometimes she would be there before us, tall and strong as the samaúma tree, red fruit of the Guaraná shining in her ears as jewels, and would sway a greeting in the slow wordless tongue of trees. 

After Telperion and Laurelin, her two greatest works, her most beloved children, Yavanna never again made trees that shone.  But many other things she made, and more of them grew, with time. Glow-worms and shining mushrooms appeared to brighten the long dim spaces among the tall trunks. 

I came back to Tirion from these journeys with rare treasures that Yavanna had made to show my kin: sweet brown fruits, creamy white within, and scented with strange and wonderful tastes beyond anything we had found before. They call them cupuaçu, in the common tongue of these later days, yet I would swear that there is no cupuaçu growing under Sun or Moon that could rival the cupuaçu of the deep forests of Yavanna in the days when Valinor was young. 

In Tirion, in the white city on the green hill, I was shown the jewels that the Noldor had won from the earth, clear and shining, and I heard the songs that my people wound about them. 

But to me, none were as bright as the jewels of Yavanna, studded green across the back of some mighty carunculated lizard, the folds about his neck glistening with gems as brilliant as any emerald. I watched Yavanna at her work as she gave the lizard his fine ornament, her great hands working nimbly at the very weft of life itself as she shaped and spun the threads of living tissue to make unthought of extravagances, that revealed themselves, as I watched, to fit perfectly into the pulsing web of life around them. Her work changed constantly, and I wondered as I watched, if this was entirely by her design or if it was part of her as much as her green and complex eyes, or her long red hair.  That is to say, of course, not part of her at all, in the beginning, but something that had grown to be part of her during her long sojourn in the Living World, which she had helped to make, and had bound herself to inextricably in the course of the making. 

In the city, I was shown fine filigree metalwork patterned with leaves, and could only think that it was not as fine and delicate as the long toes of the anole lizard, nor was the blue of sapphire or aquamarine as delicately dappled as the fine blue scales upon his back, for in those days, the arts of the Noldor had not yet reached their height.

I spoke to my people of the forests of Yavanna, of the wide grasslands studded with golden flowers and patterned with small shining waterways and silver-crystal sands where Yavanna’s creatures came from the deep woods to graze. 

 Then a few of them came with me to see the wonders I spoke of. Ingwion, son of the King, was one of them. He was young then, and his heart called out for adventure as mine did. We travelled for a while into the deep woods, where we hunted through the great trees.  

There a great snake came on us in the Hour of Mingling, seeking to make us his meal. We slew him with our spears, and took the skin, and later,  Ingwion made a great picture on it, embossed lines winding all along the length, showing our sleep in the deep shadow of the woods, our dreams of trees and birds and lizards, the coming of the serpent, our hunt, and all our other adventures at that time. It hangs in his house in Valimar, a still enduring memory of that distant time.  

It was that journey that first made Ingwion think that the Vanyar might move west, and when he spoke of it, my heart leapt, for I longed to show the wonders of Yavanna’s gardens to my mother. 

We spoke long and hopefully that night, and after we lay on the silver sand by the green river, shade-dappled with the cool light of Telperion, and we dreamed of elven-cities. Cities for the Vanyar that would not look over the shoulder, out East to the stars and the old world, but would lie entirely within the brilliance of the Trees, where Elves and the Ainur would dwell together.

We went together to speak of it with Yavanna, and she received us in the green halls, beside the still, reflective waters of the Híri river.

In my mind, the thought had risen of a forest-town, one built entirely within the tree-shadows. A town that was less built or sung than grown, a city of trees and gardens, tended and beloved.

But in Ingwion’s mind the thought had grown instead of a city that would echo the golden glory of Laurelin.  A city of the plains where the grass grew long in the light, filled with golden towers and chiming bells, filled with great choirs singing. 

Together we came to Yavanna, and together we laid out our visions, patchwork and inconsistent as they were. I could not see that both ideas could be made, for the Vanyar were still a scant people in those days, and we increased slowly. 

But as we laboriously laid out our thoughts, Yavanna laughed. 

“I will bless you,” she said. “Runyar, who has learned the secrets of my deep forests, and Ingwion prince of the Vanyar: both of you shall have your dreams. There shall be a new city beside Laurelin, filled with golden domes. And there shall be the shadowed cities of the gardens, spreading through my domain, so that I too shall hear the Elves singing through my realm. 

And I shall make you a fruitful people, so that you may fill both of your cities.”  And she laughed again, and we, not fully understanding her, laughed too. 

She sent us back to Tirion, to speak with our people. I am no orator, but I was filled with the dream of my forest-towns, and Ingwion — Ingwion spoke as they say his father Ingwë spoke, long ago in the distant East, telling the Vanyar of the Light in the West, and summoning them to follow him to see it. 

We went out into the uttermost West not long after that. Not many of the Noldor came with us. They loved their white city that was half in starlight, caught on the cusp of the mountains between the darkness and the light: they always have. They said, too, that they could not leave their friends the Teleri so far behind, for there was much coming and going between Alqualondë and Tirion in those days, and the Teleri would for no reason travel far from the Sea. 

We did not look back. We went out singing, our faces to the golden light of Laurelin, and carrying all we had, and that was not much, for the land was warm and generous, and we had no enemies to fear. 

We walked until at last we came to the great green mound of Ezellohar, just as the light of silver Telperion was beginning to wane, and we set up our camp on the wide plain among the swaying grasses, a little way from the mound, where the clear light shone warm and bright, a little way from the great vats where the shining dews that fell from the Trees were gathered. 

As Laurelin’s flowers began to open, Yavanna came out to greet us, and she was garbed in blossoms, and behind as she walked, she left a trail of ruby and crimson orchids lifting their bright heads to Laurelin’s golden radiance. 

She did not speak in words, but as our King and Queen went forward to greet her, she raised her hands, and smiled.

A great warmth and energy rushed through me, and all around me, I could see faces flushing.  

Then she began to sing, in her rich deep voice, as the golden light strengthened, and it was as if we roused from a deep sleep, unfurling, awakening. Colours were brighter, shapes clearer, as if we had walked all our lives in sleep.  

We were wearing only the light clothes we had brought from Tirion, but even these seemed all at once heavy and cumbersome, and we began to strip them off, throwing them down on the ground, as our hearts beat strong as drums in our ears.  

Before Yavanna, I could see the King and Queen were naked now, and their hands entwined, but I had little attention to spare for them, for my own blood was rising in me, my nipples hard and darkening under the golden light. 

My tongue felt hot and heavy in my mouth, and I licked my lips, wondering at the sensation, which seemed somehow new and strange, though my body was unchanged, of wetness drying on the heat of my lips, the drag of my tongue on the sharp tips of my teeth. 

My stomach shivered. A heavy rhythm beat in my wrists, in my throat,  between my legs, in time with the song Yavanna sang. I could feel Laurelin’s hot golden light caressing my bare skin. 

Not far off, my mother and father were embracing joyfully. It was not like them to be so demonstrative... nor was it common for the King and Queen to be on their knees, locked together naked before the people.

Yet under Yavanna’s bright gaze, there seemed nothing strange in it. 

I saw her eye fall on me, across the crowd, and I shivered across my whole body,  as if the mother of the Trees had touched me with her living light :  It felt like diving into clear fresh water, shimmering: I closed my eyes for a moment, possessed by green and golden light, and then, when I opened them again, my eyes fell on Ingwion, his face flushed, mouth a little open, and his body dark and hard with lust, and I could not look away. 

I had walked with Ingwion through the forests, had hunted beside him, slept and talked and had no thought of his body, until now.  Now, my eyes wide and body eager as never before, I could think of nothing else. 

“Will you?” I asked, and no more words could I find to say, for my body’s fire had taken the words of my mind’s delight, and I was possessed. 

He turned and took my hand —  I remember the dangerous brightness of his eyes, the whisper of his breath, the movement of his throat —  and the heat and feeling of it ran through me, the form of each long finger against mine, burning like the wildfire dews that flamed from Laurelin.  “Yes.”

I remember the feeling of his body writhing against mine, our hair wrapped around us,  the feel of someone else’s foot or hand or buttock as we rolled careless into them, and just as carefree, rolled away. The grass was flattened beneath us, and the orchids grew all around us all, swaying with our movement. His arms around my waist, my hands pulling him in closer: sweat beading on my back. 

The first wild rutting was swift and desperate, a meeting of bodies and only afterwards of minds. Yavanna’s power was in us and over us, and I doubt that many resisted it: I could spare no attention for the question at the time.  

There was no consideration to it, no careful plan or ritual words, no exchange of rings. There was no need, for Yavanna had blessed us all, and surely, we were fortunate, though we had no time to speak of it. 

The second time was slower, stronger. We had burned away the first, fierce flame of desire. We were no longer paired, as we had always been, but together, all of us, one people, joined by Yavanna in the light. Long hands stroked me, and I barely recognised whose hands they were, for all of us were filled to overflowing with the power of the Lady. It was part of us, growing like a flower from the seed at the centre of us, something I had not known I had, and now was all that mattered. I reached out to caress shoulders, hips, feet and it did not matter what names had belonged to them, for we were one. Our mouths were open, but we had no words, no song, not then. Only living bodies, hot and thrusting with desire. 

The grass was flattened and covered in the scattered petals of orchids, and still Yavanna sang her song, stronger and sweeter than white honey-mead, though Laurelin was on the wane, and the silver of Telperion was beginning to cool the light that laid upon us, dappling our sprawling, panting bare bodies with silver.

We would never be quite the same again. Slowly, we caught our breath. Slowly we came back more fully to a sense of who we are. In Telperion’s light, we reached out one to another, spirit to spirit, light to light. Some got up and moved away a little, caressing faces, breasts, thighs as they went, speaking gentle words, seeking words to shape their feelings into forms they could hold and understand.  

And then came the third time, and our spirits were awake and had their voices heard. We planted seeds like kindled flames.  

It was not what I thought I had asked for. Even now, I do not know if Yavanna looked deep within me and saw a desire that I did not know, or if she only saw a problem to be solved, and went at it directly, as she always does. 

She lit a flame within me, and as flames will, it burned. 

 

*****

 

It was a long while before we were ready to start building any city.  Yavanna sent her Maiar to bring us great leaves piled high with nuts and fruits, wild rice, potatoes and brightly coloured heads of corn.  She sent her great river-otters to bring us fish, and her huge running-birds she sent us in a great flock marching on their long legs, to lay their great eggs for us so we had little need to hunt. We encamped in the wide grasslands near the Trees while we prepared for  the coming of our children.  

And they were many.  

Twins had been rare among us; triplets un-thought-of, yet many of our people at that time bore two children together, and some had three. I was one of those so blessed, and though it often brought me unexpected joy to think of my little ones, to reach out inside myself and touch their sleeping thoughts, they brought me sorrow too. 

Many times I longed to walk afar, travelling in the great forests as I used to do, flitting with the bright birds and butterflies through the tree-top branches. But I was too heavy and too slow, weighted down by my body and the growing children within it. My mother reproached me, and I flung back bitter words, though we love one another dearly. 

It was a test that I found very hard to pass: to be present in thought for them, to enrich them with my song, to work beside their father in harmony, even when I longed to be alone. My spirit yearned to run, to jump, to be free, and I felt the bonds of my body heavy upon me.  Yavanna's song echoed through me still, and there were times I would have escaped it if I could, and times when it was my strength and support, the food my children needed.

Time passes, even in Eldamar under the Light of Trees, and so it passed for us. We learned how best to grow corn, potatoes, rice. We planted groves of papaya and açaí trees, and Yavanna came among us and told us the words to speak over them to make them leap for the skies with joyful ecstasy, and set fruit generously.  

Ingwion and I found that we could not hold it against her, that she sang to the trees with the same power that she had sung to us. So far as we could tell, the trees did not mind it either. Perhaps to the Valar, the Elves and the trees are not so far apart. 

Soon the encampment of the Vanyar was alive with children singing, weeping, playing and dancing.  Busy times, with less space and time than we were used to for thought of buildings: of domes of gold or ringing bells, and even less for wanderings in the woods. I had children, and sisters, cousins, aunts and other kin, all of them finding their feet and their voices all at once.  The first choirs of Valimar were formed before the city had walls or roofs, and they were choirs of children singing. 

The Noldor built Tirion from stone, their hand’s work and hearts’ design long thought of, high on a hilltop, each stroke of the chisel thought out and planned. 

The Vanyar built Valimar in the valley, where we came down to the water for the children to  bathe and swim. We built it from enchantment and from straw, and the clay of the wide plains.  The walls rose around us in fine warm clay-brick shaped by children’s hands, and marked with small fingerprints, baked dry beside the raging wildfire dews of the Golden Tree. 

 

****

 

When Valimar was full-made, and bells woven of enchantment and light were hung in towers spun from the tall grass of the plains, the children born in that first encampment in the land of Valimar were full-grown. They were strong, all of them, and all three of my children were taller than I am.

I had sung to them of my dreams: of the forest-towns that would grow in Yavanna’s orchards and her gardens, and they dreamed with me. Ingwion chose to stay in the city of the bells, where many of the Maiar, and some even of the Valar had begun to make their homes. Ingwion went often to the Hall of Tulkas, and he was among the warriors who wrestled there, and he danced with Nessa on the green grass of Valimar. 

But I?  I went forth once more, to walk with Yavanna and my children came with me, out into the shadows of the woods, where the leaves hung green and long and the flowers fluttered with the shadows of butterflies and hummingbirds. 

There we began to make our lesser gardens, each one a different echo of Yavanna’s mighty garden, and to build our houses. Near my house, built between three great living trees, the howler monkeys glittered chestnut and gold in the distant light of the Mingling, as they hooted their wild chorus.

 

*****

 

Many songs have been sung of the death of the Trees, many tales told of Yavanna’s song and Nienna’s grief, of the birth of Moon and Sun.  I have no words to add to the great tales.

My tale is smaller. When the Trees died, so did many of Yavanna’s lesser children.  The delicate flowers and the gauzy-winged insects had no power to endure the cold Unlight that rolled across our beloved land. 

For the first time since first we set foot in Eldamar, the leaves fell thick upon the forest-paths, black and crisp at the edges as if fire had come near them.

It was cold. Yavanna said no word to us, but mourned beside her brothers and sisters in the Máhanaxar. We mourned with her, but the chill struck deep, and we were not clad for such cold. Our serpent-friends, the great boas and kingsnakes, curled cold and barely living in the corners of our houses.  I went to find a curtain to wrap around my shoulders, and found it full of torpid hummingbirds, their emerald and crimson feathers reduced to shades of charcoal grey by the gloom. 

Some of us began to make fires from the wood of the withering trees, and to me, at that dark time, this seemed a terrible thing.  I tried to stop them, and fierce words were said then, words we all regretted later. To live in the Light of the Trees, and then live on to see the Unlight was a bitter grief, and grief brings fear, anger, and regret. Some of the lesser Maiar fled.

When Unlight was withdrawn, after a time that felt long and very dark and bitter, at last the Moon rose, offering a pale shadow of hope, and at last, the Sun.  It gave light that was not much like that of Laurelin the Golden, but it was warm, and  the trees could survive its light as they could not the darkness. 

Minyen : The Sun

Hey there! Listen! Now comes the strange news.  Now comes the turn that none of us thought of! 

So I told you how we left the lake for  the starlit forests. Not many of us, not in those days: there wasn’t much to eat, you see, not under our old friends the stars, though we thought them fine enough and didn’t mind much that sometimes there was more starlight than supper. 

But oh, the sight of the Moon, silver in his glory, his broad face smiling! A thing we’d never seen, he was, though we mourned that the brightness of him hid our old friends from us. 

But then old Aïssa came to us —  that was a shock in itself, she didn’t stir herself for the convenience of Elves, as a rule —  she came to us, and she said to me: Look out, you elves!  For the silver herald is come, and his great Lady comes after. The world you have known is passing.  Be ready!  

Now we thought she meant the Lady herself, the Lady of the Trees was coming, and we laughed, for though we loved her trees dearly, never had we seen the Lady.  We had family, as I told you before, who went off looking for Light and the Lords and Ladies of Westernesse, and all that sort of thing, but we’d never troubled ourselves with such matters. We weren’t likely to bow down before the Lady, no more than any other Lord out of the West. 

But no, that wasn’t it at all. She meant the Sun. 

It was like all the camp fires and volcanoes at once when She came, redding up the sky like a river of fire. Lovely and terrifying all at once, like the white-hot embers right in the heart of the bonfire you don’t dare touch, only it was everywhere around you.  The sky full of red light, the air warm around us. We hid under the trees, we hid our eyes. Whispered the names of the stars. 

Ha!  You can laugh!  We laughed loud enough later. But it was all new to us that First Day. We wailed as if the end of the world had come. 

But we couldn’t hide for long, because that first Morning was the morning when the Lady’s children woke up. All around us!  The silver dreams of trees shredded away into gold-green life, and all of a sudden there were more colours of green than ever I dreamed of.  First the forest-trees, and then the grass pushing up all shiny and new, and the seeds unfurling from their long dream and pushing up as if they had to make up for lost time.

And the smells! You know how the forest smells after the rain, right?  All green and growing.  Well, it was like that only many times more, because it was the first time ever in all the world, and there I was among it all, wondering. 

Once the shock wore off a bit, we saw the forest come to life around us. Orchids and ferns crept along the branches.  Imagine! The first orchid unfurling the first flower, delicate pinks and yellows dappling. Ah! A fine sight, I tell you. 

One day not long after, I was following a guenon monkey.  He seemed to have something on his mind,that monkey.  His fine white crest was bowed, and he had his little hands clasped over his golden belly, his bright eyes cast down. 

So I asked him what his trouble was, as you do, wondering why he was all on his lone, you see?  

And he shook his head as if the weight of the world was on it, and he led me to a glade I’d not been in since before the Sunrise, and it was full of tulip trees in bloom.  All red and orange with the sunlight slanting through the flowers, some full open, some still in bud: the first time I ever saw a tulip tree, it was. Wonderful! 

Well, that little monkey, he took a bud from the tulip tree, and he handed it to me as if it was the most important thing you ever did see.  So I leant down to look at it, of course. 

And what did that monkey do? He only leant in and squeezed the bud!  Squirted water right in my face it did— yes, just like the children do now —  and he shot twenty feet up into the trees and laughed his little heart out. 

I laughed too, once I’d got over the surprise, and then I tried just the same trick on my sister Amyen. Oh, we had some fine laughs in those days. Full bellies too, once old Aissa’s seeds were fully grown. The mangos, the bananas and  the mvout fruits all began to ripen, and the boar, the porcupine and the antelope had more than enough food to feed us all. 

Ah they were the broad days, the stars by night and the Sun by day, and the Moon wandering as he would. The hunting was good, and our people had a good time and plenty babies too. But the old star-trees, they faded once the new dawn came. They stayed a little while, but little by little they faded in the light. That's the way of all things. They say it's different across the Sea, but I'm not too sure about that.

So the star-trees faded, but it was the time when the sun-trees awoke.  We were used to hearing them dreaming their silvery dreams, but they were quiet and still about it. But now the sap was roaring through them and the leaves were bursting and the flowers waving.  

A great music rang through the woods in those days, and Aïssa said she could hear the Lady singing.  The thoughts of trees were green and wild and awake. So we took to talking to them, telling the trees of all that was going on, seeing as they didn’t get out and about much themselves. What?  All sorts of things!  The tulip trees flowering, and the little monkey that laughed, and my sister’s baby, and Aïssa and her stick, and how happy she was about all her seeds growing,and how cross she was when she found the monkeys had pulled up some saplings. The good hunting, and the day my father fell in the river, and the way to make a drum. All that kind of thing. 

So they listened, and they thought, and in a while, once they had the way of it, they began to talk back to us. Asking questions like a child: they wanted to know everything, those old trees! Where did the leaves go when they fell, and where did the wind come from, and why did we Elves have no roots, and did it hurt to have feet. 

A proper conversation we had.  It went on years and years. Oh, more than I can count. They live a long time, trees. You can have a good chat with them. Some of them even thought of a way to get about on their own, if you can believe it.  Never did I think I’d see a mahogany tree lean forward and take a long, leaning step, but they did it.  It was the young ones, mostly. The big old trees were too set in their ways, you see?  But the saplings... ah the saplings saw us dancing, and they thought: I can do that! 

The Sun cools and the world worsens. A long time since I saw a tree walking, and the woods are lesser now than they were in the days of my youth. But I shan’t forget them, no, not ever, and nor should you, oh Children of the Sun. 

I’ll give you this, before I take my supper and go back to my trees: they’ll tell you in the West — if they’re even still there after all this time — they’ll tell you that the Dark One was the strongest of the lot. But what did he do? A lot of noise and smoke and nonsense. If I were one to lay a bet —  and I won’t say I don’t, from time to time— well, my bet would be on the Lady who grew the Sun like a big ripe mango.

That's what I think.