The Three Trees: A Fable about Gratitude

Gandown, Tribec and Stenwed

If you do not believe in tall tales, do not read further, for this, dear friend, is one.
The three trees stood together, rooted down, secure in the life they shared at the small town’s only park. Each had seen a good number of years, although they expected a good many more. There was no reason they should expect otherwise. Each had come to be planted at the wish of a human who wanted to give honor to a loved one. Each one came to stand in time by one another, planted in their own season, although chosen to stand as a reminder of the life of another whom they did not know. Each one of the trees started small but had grown and they did vary in size. Each had a heart of its own, which took hold in the place it was, rooted, firm and beautiful. Each was cared for and given enough nourishment and attention to grow, reaching the fullest possible height, stature and breadth it was meant to be. Yet, within each heart of each tree, there was a remnant of the heart of the one who had been memorialized. 

The first tree was called Gandown, and he himself was most stout. He enjoyed many things about his life at the park, especially the laughing children…from a distance. But Gandown also fancied himself more than others. He especially was ungrateful for the details of his existence. Often, he would ponder the many things that he believed would make his life better and more satisfying as a stout tree. He believed he should live among the many, stout trees further away, in the deep wood. He did not feel grateful for the place he stood within the park. Sometimes he was annoyed with the company he was placed in, and felt trapped by their presence. But what was a tree to do? He could not uproot himself from the place he had been planted. For this is the lesson, all trees must come to understand. They each must grow, exactly where the Planter plants them. For it is not for trees to decide. These things are quite out of their limbs reach, and a bit lofty to grasp. 

The tallest of the three trees was Stenwed. A more beautiful evergreen, one would be hard-pressed to find. Tall, beautiful and perfectly shaped; she longed to enjoy the breezes that caused her to bend and sway. Instead she felt distracted from joy by the subtle discontentment which gnawed at her branches. Stenwed was always longing for more, never satisfied and was blind to the beauty which surrounded the three trees. The desire for perfection had clouded her ability to ever enjoy that which was available in the present moment. 

Between Gandown and Stenwed, stood little Tribec. Tribec was small and sometimes overlooked in conversation. Standing between the two larger trees, he learned to be an excellent listener. Tribec observed all that went on in the tiny park. He never missed a detail. He quietly listened, observed and enjoyed the sights as he took in the various interactions between the people and animals, that took place in the public park. He felt content and grateful, even though he was overlooked and sometimes only “tolerated” by the other trees. He loved when the birds used him for shelter and he always tried to spread and stretch his branches to accommodate them. Especially when Gandown and Stenwed would complain about “those pesky freeloading critters”. Tribec loved his Planter. He knew that He was loved and cared for by the gentle steward who tended him day by day,  month after month, year after year. The Planter always spoke gentle, soothing words of encouragement to Tribec. Tribec looked forward to the times when the Planter would visit, as these were special times of refreshment for him. He would feel sad for Gandown and Stenwed because they just did not seem to appreciate their own Planters. He hated when they grumbled and complained.  He would focus extra hard on a child laughing on the swing during these times, so as not to hear all the bad things. He would offer a word of encouragement but more often than not, they would not hear him. They had stopped hearing anything wise many years before, as they only listened to one another. 

One year the three trees observed their three Planters talking at the entrance of the park.
The trees murmered among themselves and wondered what was being spoken. They watched as the three Planters shook hands, and all but one of them remained. Tribec’s Planter went back to his car, and returned with a shovel and an axe. The Planter then walked toward the three trees. He then stood before each one and seemed to be in deep thought, as if he was listening to another voice that only he could hear. Gandown and Stenwed felt fearful. Tribec was calm and inwardly smiling. He felt no fear because He knew his Planter. He watched the Planter with complete trust and expectancy. He knew the Planter was trustworthy. He was, however, curious, as the Planter seemed most interested in the other trees and was thoughtfully stroking his chin as he circled Gandown and Stenwed. Finally, the Planter knelt before Tribec. He tended to him as he always did, pulling up a weed here and there, dragging his fingers in the dirt surrounding Tribec’s base, speaking gently and reassuringly to the littlest tree. Tribec felt sad, but understood. The Planter had prepared him for what was to come next. Then the Planter stood, and after saying something about “a shame”, took the axe to the trunk of Gandown and then Stenwed. All that remained of them were two stumps. Tribec stood alone, now, unsure of what would be next. The next thing the Planter did surprised the little tree most of all. He took from his car a basket, and sat beside the littlest tree in the park, reclined himself and dined. As Tribec was enjoying the presence of the Planter, a child approached them and asked about the cut trees. The Planter explained about a terrible tree disease that had come upon the trees, and how they needed to be cut down so that the littlest tree, still remaining would not also be infected. The child, satisfied with this answer, smiled and ran off to join the others on the playground. Tribec, still stands and enjoys the pleasure of his time with the Planter, who regularly picnics at his side. 

The moral of the story is beware of the deadliest diseases of Discontent, Dissatisfaction and Ingratitude.

Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Matthew 7:19

*This is a completely fictitious story and no part of it represents anyone, tree or person in any way, at all, with all due respect. Thank you.

Published by enthusiasticallydawn

Dawn Paoletta is the author of Journaling for Discovery and Delight. Her writing is included in several anthologies and her poems have been included in the Wickford Poetry and Art Exhibit and Books. Dawn is currently working on her next book. Inquiries at

2 thoughts on “The Three Trees: A Fable about Gratitude

  1. What a truly beautiful story, Dawn! I love it!! Have you given serious consideration to publishing this as a children's book, a la 'The Giving Tree?' I really think you should give it a shot, Dawn. Easy to understand, wonderful moral to the story. Think about/pray about it. I can honestly see this coming to fruition! :)Grace & peace,Pam


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