24 x 18 cm.
From below you can find a short story for Christmas by Mike Owens.
"Night before Christmas" painting was the inspiration for the story.
THE ORNAMENTAL TREE
Once upon a time there lived a tree that stood at the top of a hill. His name was Norton. Norton was a very lonely tree, as all other trees were several feet away. This prevented Norton from talking to his fellow trees nearby. All trees in the vicinity were just a little to far to hear him speaking. His sense of isolation was deepened by the fact that the surrounding trees were all very close to other trees, so everyone around him had someone to talk to. Norton had no one. He was only able to scan the hilltop and observe the other trees talking to their neighbors. This made Norton very sad.
Norton also noticed that the trees around him provided homes and safe places for birds. Norton longed to have a bird visit him. Even if he couldn't speak bird, perhaps he could slightly wave his branches and attempt sign language. However, no birds ever landed on Norton because he was out in the open and they did not feel safe sitting on his branches. The birds thought they would be much safer in a place with lots of cover and lots of nearby trees if quick relocation were to be necessary.
Norton wished and hoped that a bird would land on him that would take the time to talk. Norton practiced quick and efficient speeches that he could recite to a bird, and just maybe that might inspire the bird to stay, if only for a short conversation. He knew that he would have to speak quickly using waving branch language, so any bird that by chance landed on him would have to be a very observant bird indeed.
Dennis was a scrub jay that constantly surveyed his environment. It is wise to be aware of one's surroundings as a scrub jay. It is important to be conscious of food and water sources as well as predators in the vicinity. All the other scrub jays Dennis knew also regularly scanned their environments as they traveled around. However, Dennis looked very deeply into the things he saw along his way. He would examine details very intensely. This meticulous observation method was handy in that he could describe and recall small details of the objects he saw. However, all the time spent scrutinizing meant that he missed many other plain details. In fact, the other scrub jays thought Dennis was a little strange. They also began to see him as a safety hazard. If it was his turn to watch for danger, he could easily be found studying a leaf instead. Bird by bird the other scrubs began to avoid hanging out with and especially traveling with Dennis.
Dennis began to notice that his friends wanted to be with him less and less often. He did not understand why. Dennis became very sad. He had always thought his devotion to detail made him special and interesting. He certainly did not feel interesting any more. With a heavy sigh and a heavy heart, Dennis decided to move on.
Dennis flew and flew for a long time until eventually he had to rest. He looked around and was startled and interested when he saw one lone tree on a hilltop, separated a fair distance from other trees. "What a splendid tree," he thought. Dennis flew toward the tree.
Norton had seen this before. It was the recurring disappointment. A bird would fly in his direction, Norton would become hopeful and nervous, then the bird would fly on and rest in a nearby tree. Norton watched the approaching bird with waning interest. He saw the bird getting closer and closer, then really close, and he also suddenly noted the determination in the bird's eyes. Then it happened.
The bird landed on him. Norton was astounded. He almost forgot what to do. Then he remembered his plan. Right then at his vital moment he put his whole xylem and phloem into his woodbending technique and waved as best he could in a pattern that could not be created by wind.
Dennis was very tired and took labored breaths. He liked the tree he had chosen, as it was the only one of its kind in the environment. It was alone. It had also lost all of its leaves due to its exposed location. Then Dennis heard a sound. It was the creaking sound of wood being bent. He looked at nearby branches, and saw that their extremely slight movements had a pattern.
"Hello? Tree? Are you talking to me?" asked Dennis. Then Dennis felt a feeling he had never before encountered. He studied and watched and analyzed intensely, and he felt the tree. He felt the tree's ultimate happiness regarding his arrival. He felt the tree was even more excited about him noticing the branch movement pattern. He felt the tree was especially overjoyed to have a bird visitor. He felt the tree was named Norton. Norton felt that Dennis could sense his presence and thoughts and he was overcome with happiness.
Then Dennis felt Norton's feelings change. He could tell Norton was and had been sad, very sad indeed. He was isolated from the other trees and couldn't talk to them. He had no fellow trees to talk to. He also had no other bird visitors, as all other birds did not want to sit exposed out in the open. Dennis thought about this. He had sensed Norton and his messages because he had noticed him. What if he could do something that would cause the surrounding trees to notice Norton? Dennis gave the matter serious consideration.
The practice of intense analysis and recollection rewarded Dennis again. He told Norton he would return and he flew off. Norton didn't have a chance to say anything, and he was afraid that Dennis had also become aware of overexposure and had left to find a safer tree. Norton became depressed again. He tried to think of how he could have offended Dennis, and he thought of what he might do differently if he met another avian visitor. He longed to speak to Dennis again.
Many hours passed. Daylight faded and left room for a full moon that lit up the dark snowy night. Norton was very sad and he began to think he had screwed up his one chance with the one bird that could sense and hear him. He began to cry. All of a sudden, there was a faint clinking sound that was barely audible. It was irregular and was obscured by the snow and the cold wind of the night. Then Norton realized the clinking was airborne and approaching. For a moment he thought it might be the Santa guy and the reindeer he had heard about as a young seed, but he quickly brushed the thought away because he had also heard the area he lived in was nowhere near a standard Santa route.
Clink! Something was attached to one of his branches. Then clink! -he felt it again on another branch, then another. "Merry Christmas," said Dennis. Dennis had found and transported several shiny metal red sphere ornaments and was hanging them on Norton's branches. Norton was deeply touched. He never dreamed he would ever have decorations on him at Christmas. Dennis then got comfy on a branch for the night, and Norton did his best to shelter him from the cold using branches, ornaments and some Christmas spirit.
In the morning, Dennis woke Norton. "Norton, there are some folks that want to say hello to you." Norton was bewildered as he looked around and saw that every single tree within treesight was waving to him, using all their might to bend their solid branches. "Where did you get the cool decorations?" said one tree. "You look fantastic!" exclaimed another. "I thought it was about time you were noticed," said Dennis. Norton was overwhelmed. Just then a group of scrub jays flew up and landed on Norton. Dennis was stunned. "Hi Dennis!" said one of the jays. "Check out these ornaments! It's an ornamental tree! Can we chill here with you?" "Sure you can," replied Dennis, as he feathered back a tear. "Merry Christmas, Dennis," branched Norton. "Merry Christmas, buddy," said Dennis in bird language.
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