Initiator: Annette Laurel Batchelor – Sharing the Love


Initiator Artist: Annette Laurel Batchelor
Artwork Title: Sharing the Love
Size: 20 x 16″
Medium: Oil
Price: $520

Responder Author: Marlene Dotterer
Writing Title: The Nature of Love
Price: $60

The sapling had grown tall enough that survival was no longer hit-or-miss. He was not much taller than the young animals who stood nearby, chattering to each other and to him, with relentless movement of their branches. These animals came often, when the sun could be felt on the sapling’s upper side nearest the brook. They came almost every day in the sapling’s recent memory.

Truth told, memory was new to him. Life was hazy when he was a nestled seed in a fruit on his parent. He’d heard the voices of nature, softened by the protective fruit. They came from everywhere: the twig on which he grew, the branches and sap of the tree, the wind that moved them all in its hectic dance, the ants, bees, and countless other insects that crawled or flew by, landing for a moment and leaving again. The voices fed and entertained him, always moving, always changing.

Real memory began with drastic changes: fruit-napped by a squirrel, who ate most of the tender flesh surrounding his shell. Buried in soil with new voices filtered through his shell, his root breaking free into the soil and absorbing the unfiltered shock of a million new sensations. The moist warmness of the soil promised food and water, voices of other trees and plants sent messages and warnings, the chatter of insects and worms murmured in constant song, vibrations tickled him through the soil as animals dug holes and burrows or hurried along the ground.

He thought his life was full, but the most drastic change occurred when he pushed his first tendril up, through the soil into…
LIGHT!                   WARMTH!                   AIR!
Greed possessed him then, for more and more of that light. He must reach it, he must stretch upward, gain strength to reach higher, grow shoots which turned up and grew strong and tall, but the light was STILL   SO   FAR   AWAY!

Thankfully, distractions abounded. The other trees had much to teach him, much to share of the ancient knowledge. Insects were everywhere, in him, on him, passing by and leaving bits from other plants. The rambunctious squirrels worried him at first, afraid for his slender trunk, but they always missed him as they raced and tumbled through. He was beginning to see the amusement in the world. He was a small tree still, though higher than the squirrels.

That’s when They came, these large, noisy animals, so different from everything he knew that he quivered in alarm. The other trees sent calming messages, but they watched, as well. The strange animals were loud and fast, running from tree to tree or chasing each other, rather like the squirrels.

His quiver returned when one stopped next to him. “It’s a baby tree!”

The others ran to join her. “It’s called a sapling, not a baby,” one said.

“Let’s take care of it.” The third one knelt to pat soil and leaves near his trunk. “We can bring water for it.”

“I’ll read to it,” the first one said, and sat facing him. The others joined her. As she read, he felt their regard, a gentle message of friendship. He grew a little taller, toward the light.

© 2023 Marlene Dotterer