A Story of the Leaves

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Long ago, close to the beginning of the iron age of men, trees retained
their leaves through all seasons. Even after the earthly goddess
Demeter
lost her daughter Persephone to the God of the Underworld for half of
the
year and the cold seasons were created, the leaves remained healthy and
thriving on their branches. The leaves kept their beautiful green color
because they were watched over by the equally stunning and handsome god
Foliatus, the god of trees and leaves. Foliatus protected the leaves
through the chills and freezes of winter by flying from tree to tree
and
talking to each one. The conversation was so warm and friendly that the
trees were sufficiently protected through winter, and could emerge in
the
spring as beautiful as ever.

This went on for many years, and each year, the leaves became more
beautiful than before, helped by Foliatus’ exquisite beauty and
delightful
conversation. Eventually, the nymph Chloris, whose duty it was to
maintain
the beauty of flowers and shrubs on the ground, grew intensely jealous
of
the attention that Foliatus and his trees were getting. She devised a
curse
to be set upon Foliatus, one that would take his beauty from him during
the
cold months.

One day near the end of summer, Chloris, with her devious plan in mind,
hid
waiting for Foliatus to pass near her so that she could curse him. When
she
saw the graceful god, she jumped out, cursed him, and buzzed away.
Foliatus, puzzled by the strange occurrence, continued on his path,
planting new trees and giving them hearty conversation.

As the sizzling summer days turned into cool autumn ones, the young
god’s
appearance began to change. Foliatus’ hair began to grey, and wrinkles
appeared on his face. The further into the cold months they got, the
more
aged he appeared. By the time winter started, Foliatus looked like an
old
man. He continued his duties to the trees, but many of his subjects saw
him
in a different light. Those trees that had delighted in conversation
with
the attractive youth now saw an elderly man. The warm climate trees
with
flowering bulbs and fruit ignored the god when he came to them with his
newfound troubles. When Foliatus went to the pine-bearing trees of the
north, they treated him with kindness and sympathy; “We have never had
vivid flowers or glowing fruits like our cousins to the south. All we
have
ever had is these unsightly needles. We hold no animosity towards you
because of your changed appearance.”

When spring came around again, Foliatus turned back into the beautiful
god
that he had been. The warm climate trees again welcomed conversation
with
him, but Foliatus saw through their superficial beliefs. He decided
that,
come the next winter, he would only talk to the pine-bearing trees that
had
accepted him when he was old and haggard. When winter came and
Foliatus’
appearance had changed back to that of an old man, he walked by every
flowering or fruit-bearing tree. Devoid of his warmth, these trees
quickly
lost their leaves and died off. The pine-bearing trees, blind to
prejudice,
thrived as much as ever in the cold of the winter, and they never lost
their needles. The warm climate trees’ leaves eventually grew back in
the
warmth of spring, but they would forever regret that winter when they
turned the god of the trees and leaves away.





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