Hickory Dickory Dock
The mouse ran up the clock
The cluck struck one
Down he’d come
Hickory Dickory Dock…
Every big nut tree starts from one little nut hitting the ground and surviving. On my little slice of ancestral land, there are plenty of hickory trees. Both the edible shag bark (sweet nuts) and the in edible (but horrible tasting) bitter nut trees are plentiful.
I mentioned before that the biggest shag bark hickory I ever saw is there. I imagine that when she was a nut that my Lenape ancestors were still hunting there with bows and arrows. I can only imagine what she has survived. Drought, occupation, war, floods, the great depression, countless ice and wind storms and the axes of builders. Still even a nut knows when life is ending and I too knew she was at the end of her life-cycle over the past couple of years. With only a few branches remaining, and some animals have taken up living in her scars, she has been looking weak. This spring when I came I found that her only two remaining large branches have left her and are sadly laying on the ground next to her. Since the biggest one is her top branch, this loss reduced her height by half. Just like human beings, she shrinks with age.
She looks small, feeble, fragile now. Even so, she hangs on to her life with tenacity because seems to be budding out on her remaining little branches. I believe what I see here is her last remaining spring hoorah before she becomes an apartment for the forest creatures. Still, remember that perhaps 200 years ago she was just a little nut, she has lived a long life, witnessed much!
Hickory dickory dock.
Here is creation story which shows the importance of trees.
(The Lenape Creation Story)
Here is how the creation myth was explained by a Lenape patriarch when a Dutchman asked him where the Indians came from: He was silent for a little while, either as if unable to climb up at once so high with his thoughts, or to express them without help, and then took a piece of coal out of the fire where he sat, and began to write upon the floor. He first drew a circle, a little oval, to which he made four paws or feet, a head and a tail. “This,” he said, “is a tortoise, lying in the water around it,” and he moved his hand round the figure continuing. “This was or is all water, and so at first was the world or the earth, when the tortoise gradually raised its round back up high, and the water ran off of it, and thus the earth became dry.
“He then took a little straw and placed it on end in the middle of the figure and proceeded, “The earth was now dry, and there grew a tree in the middle of the earth, and the root of this tree sent forth a sprout beside it, and there grew upon it a man, who was the first male. This man was then alone, and would have remained alone; but the tree bent over until its top touched the earth, and there shot therein another root, from which came forth another sprout, and there grew upon it the woman, and from these two are all men produced.”
*Jaspar Dankers & Peter Sluyter, Journal Of A Voyage To New York In 1679-80.