A modern winter fairy tale for adults and children
Catch up to the story here.
Listen to the song written for this part: winter.
Inside the oak it’s dark and Mina’s eyes need a moment to adapt to the light inside the tree in order to recognize anything. After a while she starts making out the textured walls of the tree cave in the dim light. They are higher and wider than she would have thought. The whole room has more similarties to a hall. On the other end Mina spots a few irregularities in the bark. As if magnetic Mina is drawn to this spot. Her steps wake the echo inside the tree, each sound a bit too loud because the silence surrounding her is not comparable with the quietness from the outside. It is almost palpable, holy, worthy. Reverence for this place takes hold of Mina. Slowly and mindfully she continues to walk towards the dents in the wall. Right as she arrives she recognizes a face. A gigantic wrinkly face watching her from the tree bark. It looks like the face of a very old woman. Her gaze is friendly and she smiles at Mina knowingly. Every creature here seems to be kind and to know exactly what is going on. Enough is enough, Mina thinks and louder than anticipated she yells at the tree woman: “Can someone finally tell me what this is all about, please?! I'm here speaking with birds, snowflakes and trees, what is going on?!”
But the tree woman’s smile only gets bigger and she winks at Mina a few times. Even though her mouth doesn’t move and Mina is fairly certain that it’s not herself speaking, she hears an answer: “Is it important whether all of this is real or just your fantasy?”
Mina stops in her tracks. Well, is it important? No, actually not. What she’s experiencing here is very strange indeed, but somehow exciting and wonderful, too. Her inner child is very happy about the adventure filled with magic and wonder. “You can find magic everywhere”, the tree woman adds to Mina’s thoughts.
Mina sits down on the floor of the tree hall and leans her head against the wall. She closes her eyes and sighs deeply. Suddenly she feels depleted, exhausted and the restlessness of this morning is noticable, too. Mina would love to have more magic in her life, especially now during Christmas time. For her the enchantment of this time has always been in the quietness, which she never got because the world seemed to be turning faster than usual.
“I’m so tired and I don’t know what to do”, she speaks aloud what has been dormant for a long time. And because she is already talking to a tree creature, she might as well be honest. Softly she continues: “Honestly I’m not happy. I have this image of how my life should be, but I don’t manage to move forward and to change something about it. What can I do that I’m doing better?”
The tree woman replies immediately, but the answer is totally different from what Mina expected: “Nothing.”
“Excuse me?”, Mina asks.
“You have to do nothing. Don’t you see my crown? It’s bare, all my life forces have retreated to my roots. You are me, Mina, don’t you understand that? It’s winter and now is the time for us to rest.”
Confused Mina sits on the floor while the tree woman closes her gigantic eyelids. Without a doubt she’s drifting off to sleep. And Mina sits there as if she was hit by a car. The answer she has gotten here in this fantastical forest is actually so simple and obvious. Of course, nature is hibernating, everything gets quiet and pauses. That doesn’t mean that nature doesn’t live anymore. Beneath the surface life continues, just at a slower pace. Mother Oak has already grown her buds for next spring, but if she’s not taking this winter break, her forces would deplete way too quickly. “Ah, in order for the oak to grow she needs a break. In order for me to grow, I need a break”, Mina explains it to herself.
She sits there for another while, overlooking the enormous tree hall, while the oak sleeps peacefully. Then she rises and leaves the tree as silently as possible.
Ouside dusk has set in, but the approaching darkness doesn’t scare. On the contrary: It brings about a sense of coziness Mina has longed for the whole time. In the disappearing light the snowflake fairies glisten showing off their wintery dances. A special kind of magic lies in the air. Like straight out of a fairy tale, Mina contemplates. And then she notices how the calmness has finally broken through her stressed shell. Once again the forest has provided the answer to her desperation.
The robin, waiting for her on one of the branches, flutters from the tree and once more settles on its usual spot on Mina’s shoulder. Mina stretches out her right arm and gently strokes the little bird’s feathers as if it was the most normal thing in the world. “Well, I think there’s nothing left for me to do, but to bring the quietness of winter into my busy world. I want to be an oak and do nothing, so that I can bloom again in spring”, Mina whispers and places herself again on the base of the tree’s roots. The snowflake fairies start dancing around her. They smile and gently touch her eyelids, each touch a magical lullaby until Mina falls asleep shortly.
Mina opens her eyes. She squints as the sunlight shines brightly in her face. She can vaguely make out the clearing in the forest. With her hand she grabs her left shoulder, but it's empty. Her surroundings become clearer. The snow has gone, the oak is her normal size again. Confused Mina stands up, turns around slowly and observes the clearing. She is in her trusted forest again, a few single snowflakes fall from the sky while the sun shines through the clouds. I must have dreamt, Mina thinks. But the confusion from the beginning, the feeling of being stressed that accompanied her the whole day has gone, too. Blown away by a snowstorm or a dream…
“What now?”, Mina asks the forest. The oak she had leaned on a short while ago looks at her silently and calmly. “Nothing”, she seems to say. Mina’s face breaks into a smile, she turns around and without a hurry makes her way back home, where nothing else waits for her but a hot cup of cocoa wanting to be enjoyed by candle light. And if Mina had turned around just now, she would have seen that a small brown bird with a red throat and white belly has been following her from tree to tree.
Do you like my Advent story? Please feel free to share it with your friends, loved ones, your family and the children in your life.