Why the Trees Lose Their Leaves
Written by - Cherokee Legend of the Evergreen Trees
December 2, 2022

Why the Trees Lose Their Leaves

​In the early times, the trees and animals were always able to talk to one another. They lived
close to each other and shared many things; but every year, the cold time came and the birds
would fly south to where it remained warm and would return with their families in the spring,
when the warm season returned.

One year, as the cold season approached Sparrow was injured. He would not be strong
enough to fly to the warm lands with his family by himself, so he made his family fly south to
the warm lands without him.

Injured, he knew he would not survive the cold season. So, he sought the help of the trees. He
approached Oak. "Oh, Oak, I am injured, and cannot fly, the cold season approaches, and if I
do not find shelter before then, surely, I shall die. Please, Oak, let me shelter among your
leaves and branches during the cold times, that I may heal and greet my family on their return
in the spring."

But Oak was a crusty old tree, and did not relish the idea of having a guest in the cold time, so
he told sparrow: "Sparrow, go find somewhere else to spend the cold time. I do not wish you
to spend the cold time with me."

And poor Sparrow was hurt in his spirit to be turned away.

So, Sparrow went to Maple and asked her. "Maple, I am hurt and not able to fly to the warm
lands with my family for the cold season. Please let me shelter among your leaves and
branches during the cold time, or surely, I will perish.
And Maple, though a very sweet tree, did not enjoy the thought of a guest for the cold time and she too, turned Sparrow away. "you ... you go ask someone else to shelter you, Sparrow. I do not wish you to spend the cold, time with me."

And again, hurt in spirit, Sparrow was turned away.

Sparrow went in turn to each of the trees and asked each for shelter in the cold time; and
each, and every time, Sparrow was turned away until there was no tree left to ask, except Pine.

With no hope left ..., but not willing to accept death ...., Sparrow approached Pine.
"Pine, I am injured, and not able to fly south to the warm lands with my family. If I do not find
shelter before the cold time, I will surely perish. Please...., let me shelter among your leaves
and branches during the cold time ... " Pine thought to himself, ("I am the least of the trees,
what can I do?") but his heart heard Sparrow's plight. "Sparrow ... My leaves are tiny ...
more like needles my branches are not as many as other trees ... but what I have you are
welcome to share."

And so, Sparrow spent the cold time with Pine. And when the warm times returned in the
spring, Sparrow's family returned also. And Sparrow had healed over the cold time and flew to
greet their return.

Creator had seen and heard all that had happened between Sparrow and the Trees. And
Creator called a great council of the Trees and spoke to them ..., "You, who were given so
much, who had so much, would not share the least of what you had with Sparrow in his
need. Because of this ..., from this day forward, when the cold time is upon the land, your
leaves shall wither and die and blow away."

Creator then spoke to Pine. "Pine, you, who had the least of all the trees, gave so much, have
touched my Spirit. When the cold times come, you of all the trees shall keep your leaves they
shall remain green through all the seasons for the gift you have given me, through Sparrow.
And that is why, to this day, that when the cold time comes to the land, AII the leaves wither,
and die and blow away .... Except for Pine.


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