Three trees yawned awake in the dawn snow. One tree, on the far left of the lake, remarked to his wife and daughter: “Look! The lake has frozen overnight. Today, the children will come and skate on the ice!”
“Will it be as it was when they came fishing?” Said the younger tree, who grew closest to the lake and stood as high as she could to see the swans gathered on the far bank. “No daughter,” said the father. “There will be more people skating than there was fishing.” “Why? Do people prefer skating?” Asked the daughter, watching the flock of swans as, like a giant snow cloud waking up, they flew from the frozen landscape. “I think so.”
“Does skating nourish them?” Asked the daughter, puzzled.
“No.” Replied the father.
“Does it give them peace?”
“I don’t think so.”
“So why do they prefer skating?”
“Because it’s fun daughter”. It was the mother who spoke this time. She stood between the father and the daughter but very rarely spoke. She had been there the longest and had often seen the children skating on the ice in winter. She had also seen the same children swimming and diving off the jetty in summer. “When I was young,” she said, “some children made a swing from rope. They tied it to my strongest branch. Everyday they came here and played. Then, suddenly, they stopped coming. Two summers passed and then two of the children, a boy and a girl, returned. Although, this time they were older and taller. They talked more and laughed less. They touched lips and hands and laid in the shade of my branches. They even carved their names into my trunk.”
“I remember them,” said the father quietly.
“What happened to them?” The daughter asked.
“They grew old together. They walked here every week, until one day, the man died. The lady spread his ashes under my strong branch and planted a tree. That tree is you, daughter.”
A ripple of laughter echoed through their branches. The trees listened. “They still play here don’t they?” Said the daughter.
“Yes,” replied the mother. “They choose to live in these memories. You can hear them. Especially, when the snow comes.”