Part 1

Can you find the old tree? It’s the oldest tree here. You can choose which one it is. Do you see the way it looks? How its branches bend and weave in the breeze? This old tree has been here for hundreds of years. And this is her story.

The old tree was dying. Her branches bowed low. Everyone in the forest knew she was dying, but nobody knew how to make her better. So, the guardian of the old tree, the green man, gathered all the creatures of the forest together, in this exact spot where you are standing. He said to them, “The old tree is dying because we, and all the other creatures of the land, have forgotten her name. We have forgotten that she is the heart of the forest, how important she is. If the old tree dies, the forest will, eventually, die too, because we are all connected.”

The green man went on. “Because the old tree’s name has been forgotten, we cannot save her, nor the forest, unless we remember what it is. Is anybody brave enough to embark on a journey to discover the name of the old tree, bring it back here, and with it heal her and save the forest?”

Among the animals of the forest, there were many who thought themselves brave enough for such a great task. There was Badger, who was very strong and muscled, but Badger was often frustrated and had a bad temper, so the other animals weren’t sure that he was the best option. There was also Owl, who was extremely wise, and knew a lot of things that nobody else knew, but she was also very sleepy, and had a tendency to nod off during the day. There was Weasel, but Weasel was easily distracted, and would often smell something interesting and go running off in the wrong direction.

So there was much arguing among the animals who should be the one to embark on this dangerous and difficult task.

Until finally one small voice raised itself above the others.

“I could try,” said Mouse.

Now Mouse was very small. He was very skittish. He had very small legs, and even though he ran very fast, it took him a look time to do things because of how small he was. And the other animals looked at Mouse doubtfully, because they did not think Mouse was up to the task.

“I mean,” said Mouse, “I am just trying to be helpful. I don’t want to tread on anyone’s else’s paws. I am not very brave or very clever, but I should like to try to be of some use.”

The green man heard these words, and he stood up to his full height. “Mouse shall be the one who journeys forth to find the forgotten name of the tree and restore the forest to health.”

And Mouse felt his very small heart pounding hard in his chest as he tried to feel brave and tried not to listen to the mutterings from the other animals. He knew they doubted him. Because he doubted himself.

“Where shall I start looking?” he wondered to himself. “I really have no idea. I feel sure that some of the other animals would have been much better suited to this task than me. I am so very small. But the green man chose me so I shall have to go. Well, I suppose it’s better to get started than to dither and to dilly-dally, off I go.” And because it made him feel better to have a plan, he repeated this to himself as he ran on his way.

“Off I go. Off I go. Off I go.”

Perhaps you can do the same thing as Mouse? Comfort him as he runs. He needs you to travel with him. He’s going towards the bridge.

Bute park trail: part 1