December 21, 2021

The Yule Log, By Kathryn Shailer

Little Eik lay quietly on the table, watching the bustle of Yuletide preparations in the big front room of the farmhouse. The scent of baking gingerbread and mulled cider filled the room as the children began attaching holly, pinecones and ribbons to his bark. It pinched and tickled, but the attention was welcome after a long, lonely year, wondering what would happen next.

Someone opened the front door and a frosty breeze wafted through the room. “Remember me, Little Eik?” whispered the breeze. And he did. He also remembered the warm summer breezes that surrounded his branches as he stretched toward the wide blue sky. “One day I’ll be as grand as Mother Oak,” he had thought. But then came the lightning strike that bored into the base of his trunk and the powerful wind that pushed him over with a wrenching crash. Next he heard the voices of a boy and his grandfather. “Look, Farfar, it’s perfect!” “It’s a gift,” said the old man. They cut a three-foot length from the young oak’s scorched trunk to haul back and season for next year. The rest they dragged  to the Mother Oak’s grove, laying it gently at her feet. “Giving back,” explained the grandfather.

Now as the family gathered by the hearth for songs and stories, Farfar lit the remaining piece of last year’s Yule Log and they lifted Little Eik onto the flame. “The Wheel of Life—the hweol—begins with the Winter Solstice. Our Yule Log will bring light through the long dark night until the sun returns tomorrow.”

But this is not the end of the story, for in the spring, an acorn dropped by Mother Oak onto the nurse log at her feet, took root and a new Little Eik was born.