The Story Finder

Voices in Fairy Tales

by Michelle Tocher

Story finder - Curly

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Pine from Heaven

A Deity from High Heaven planted me. It was so long ago that the crane cannot remember it, and the tortoise knows it only by hearsay from his great-grandmother.

Lightly, lightly, the Deity came by way of the Floating Bridge, bearing me in his right hand. Lightly, lightly his feet touched the earth.

He planted me in the good Land of the Reed Plains, within the sound of the sea at Takasaga in the Province of Harima. Then he went up again to High Heaven by way of the Floating Bridge.

I flourished and grew to a great height. My trunk was rosy red, and beneath me spread a brown carpet of fallen needles.

In the sweet nights of summer the Children of the Woods came hand in hand visit me by moonlight, slipping their slim dark feet upon the moss, and tossing back their long green hair.

The Children of the Water came by moonlight, all drenching wet their sleeves, and the bright drops fell from their finger-tips. The Children of the Air rested in my branches, and made murmuring music all the live-long night. The Children of the Sea Foam crept up the yellow sands; and from the confines of Yomi came the Mysteries, the Sounds and the Scents of the Dark—with faces veiled and thin grey forms, they came, and they hung upon the air around me so that the place was holy and haunted.

Lovers wandering upon the beach at Takasaga would hear the great company of Spirits singing together.

“Joy of my heart,” they said to one another, “do you hear the wind in the Pine Tree?”

Then the Maiden came. The crane cannot remember it, but the tortoise has it of his great-grandmother that she was born of poor parents in Takasaga. I remember. She was brown and tall and slender; in face and form most lovely. Her hair hung down to her knees. She rose at dawn to help her mother; she found sticks for the fire, she drew water at the well. She could spin and weave with the best; and for long, long hours she sat in my shade and plied her wheel or her shuttle, while in her ears she heard the sound of the wind in my branches. Sometimes her eyes looked out over the paths of the sea, as one who waits and watches. She was calm, not restless, more grave than gay, though she smiled not seldom. Her voice was the voice of a Heavenly Being, and when she sang the wind carried her voice over the sea.

One day, the white crane in my topmost branches flew to search for a mate for the Maiden.

Pine from Heaven, The Wind in the Pine Tree, Japanese Fairy Tales. Illustrated by Ohara Koson.