Translation of "Le Sapin et l'Enfant" with my own knowledges and the help of Deepl.
This tale to let us understand that we came to the point that only a miracle could help us to save nature.
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Once upon a time, high up in the Black Forest, at the side of the mountain, there was a huge, lonely fir tree. Looking towards the plain, he saw that the deciduous trees had begun to bare. Winter would soon be here, a winter that no longer really deserved its name. Of course, the freezing cold would come and grip him, the north wind would shake his branches and the thick mists would hide the sun from him. But this year again, he would surely not be entitled to his white coat. For years, the snow had left him and his fellow creatures. The others, a sob strangled him, the others had not been able to resist this persistent drought, he was the last survivor, but for how much longer?
– And if the snow doesn’t come back this year, what will happen to me? Is it time for me to lie down on the ground, next to my companions, and slowly reduce myself to dust? I am still young, barely 200 years old, not even in the middle of my life, and yet I feel that I am weakening.
He could not share his distress with anyone, not a fox, not a lynx in this desert of giant rocks; an eagle sometimes flew over him, but the eagle preferred to perch on the peak that dominated him a few hundred metres away. Even the moss had dried on his trunk. He was desperately alone.
For a long time he hadn’t seen these strange, furless little creatures standing on two legs like birds, but he had never seen them fly, they couldn’t have done so anyway, wrapped as they were in large, colourful leaves. And were they wings, those strange branches waving in all directions? So much the better if they didn’t come back, those wolf-birds, his bark still itched where they had had fun scratching him. Not to mention the fact that they were terribly noisy, with their shouts multiplied by the echo.
He would have liked to tell these savages his way of thinking, but as he could communicate without difficulty with all the plants and animals, he couldn’t get in touch with them. They seemed never to have had, or lost, the link through which all connections between living beings passed. As if they were pebbles, inert. And yet they were moving…
The fir tree plunged into deep meditation. In this way, he would not feel the bite of the thirst that gripped his body to the very depths of his roots. Detached from reality, he did not realize the approach of humans.
– Daddy, daddy, look at the tree there, he’s huge and he’s still green.
– He’s a fir tree, my darling child. Even in winter he keeps all his needles.
– But why is he so sad? And why is he so sick?
– What are you talking about? He looks very well… even if it’s strange that he’s all alone….
– That’s why he’s sad, his friends and children have died of thirst, and he too will die if his coat doesn’t come back.
– His coat? What the hell are you talking about?
The child approached the big tree until he touched him. At this contact, the fir tree emerged from his torpor. He watched with curiosity as the cub-bird, who had forgotten his father and was now speaking directly to him.
– You’d like to have your coat back so you don’t get thirsty again, wouldn’t you? If you tell me where I can find it, I’ll ask my daddy, he’s the strongest man in the world. You’ll see, he’ll find your coat and you’ll never be alone or sick again.
Behind his back, his father, taken aback, thought that his little boy had once again discovered an imaginary friend. After the sparrows in their garden and the lizards near his nursery school, here he was again with a fir tree. Resigned to this new whim, he settled down at the foot of the tree and started unpacking his picnic supplies.
– Little cub, can you really hear me? What a surprise! Never has one of your kind managed to do so. I’m very happy about that.
– Little cub? Me?
The child burst out laughing, a fresh and crystalline sound that echoed through the huge rocks around.
– I’m not a baby wolf myself. I don’t have a fur, nor a tail, nor claws. I am just a little man.
– A little man? Is that the way you call your kind? Men? I’ve seen so few of them and none of them have ever addressed me, so I didn’t know. Tell me, why do you wear your nest around your body? You look big enough not to, don’t you?
– My nest? On me? You make me laugh too much. These are clothes! …to keep me warm! Otherwise, I could freeze to death here. By the sea I could live without clothes because it’s very hot there, but not at your place.
– The sea? What is the sea?
– It’s water, lots and lots of water that moves all the time making waves. Imagine that instead of the forest down in the plain, all you see is blue, and all that blue is water, that’s the sea.
– Oh! I would so much like to be near the sea with so much water. I’m so thirsty, for so long… I could drink the sea…
The little boy laughed again.
– You’d hate it, the water is no good, it’s full of salt. Believe me, I drank it by accident and it really wasn’t good.
Getting serious again, he continued:
– Is that why you want your coat back? To drink water? You still haven’t told me where to find it, this coat?
– It used to come from the sky. When the leaves on the other trees started to turn red and fall, when it got cold, I knew that the snow would fall from the sky and cover me with its coat. But it has been gone for so long. I am afraid it will never come back.
– The snow? What is snow? I’m almost six years old and the only thing I’ve seen falling from the sky is rain.
– Snow is a rain without drops, a rain of little cotton crystals, a rain so cold that the drops turn into light, vaporous flakes, and these flakes settle in a thick layer on trees, on mountains, on the earth. This is my coat … And when winter comes to an end and a little warmth returns, the snow melts, the flakes become water, and the water penetrates the earth where, thanks to my roots, I can drink it. Now you understand how difficult it is for me to quench my thirst.
– It’s true that in my house it’s much easier, » admitted the child. So, to heal, you need snow to fall from the sky? My dad knows how to do everything, but I don’t think he can make snow fall. Already when it rains, he says that nobody can stop it. So, to do the opposite, I guess it’s the same, nobody…
Interrupting in his sentence, the enthusiastic child addressed his stoic father:
– Daddy, daddy, the tree is very thirsty. It made me laugh too much, he said he could drink the sea. Can I give him one of the bottles of water? That way he’ll be a little less thirsty waiting for the snow….
– The snow? Valentin, how do you know that snow exists? There hasn’t been any for a long, long time, even before you were born.
– I told you, it’s the fir tree. He needs snow, but I don’t know how. He’s so sick and he’s going to die if the snow doesn’t come.
– Sorry Valentin, unless there is a miracle, I don’t see what could save him.
– A miracle? What is a miracle?
– Ooh there! You’re asking me for things. A miracle is something that usually is impossible, but sometimes, if you wish it from the bottom of your heart, then this impossible thing can come true.
– A bit like what I put in my letter to Father Christmas then?
The father smiles, tenderly.
– Yes, but much, much more difficult. Besides, it will soon be time to write to him, won’t it? Have you already thought about what you want to ask Father Christmas?
– Shortlegs, Gully Gawk, trotting around here, the mail won’t open itself. Especially since this year it’s soaring through the roof, I can’t stand these spoiled rotten kids anymore. All the same….
Father Christmas, grumpy as usual, circulated between the huge tables covered with envelopes and cards of all shapes and colours. Once again, this year, the children had had a great time and there were only five days left to prepare everything. He sighed with discontent:
– Look at this: shelves, telephones, computers, software. Everything to be even more isolated. Loneliness as a gift, and pollution as a bonus. All these gadgets full of dangerous products will harm children and the Earth. My sea ice has already started to crack because the climate is so out of control. Few people are aware of the impending disaster, most humans prefer to play the ostrich. How I regret the time when giving an orange was the most beautiful gift. Bloody world….
For a few minutes, still grumbling, he supervised his elves, gave the usual instructions for this time of year and went back to his office, where Mother Christmas wouldn’t dare disturb him. A little nap would do him a world of good, the next few days were going to be tough.
– Father Christmas, Father Christmas, you have to wake up. We’ve got one, at last we’ve got one!
– Who’s got one? Who? What? How?
Father Christmas was startled and, with one eye still asleep and the other half awake, reacted with delay to the rush of elves that had gathered around him.
– What are you doing here? Get out! My office is sacred, nobody goes in there, you know that! Even Mother Christmas is forbidden to set foot in it. Off with you! Everybody out!
The elves, taken by their excitement, did not listen to him:
– We’ve got one, we’ve got one!!!
– And first, you get out, and second, you’ll tell me what’s going on with you afterwards, you see ? snarled Father Christmas inflexibly.
Reluctantly, the elves left the room and waited for Santa to finally decide to join them. With his hands on his hips, he stared at the small crowd, who were squealing with impatience.
– Well, here I am, what’s going on?
Without further comment, Shortlegs put a letter under his nose. Father Christmas read it, widening his eyes. Then the elves saw him discreetly wiping away a tear while a huge smile blossomed between his beard and moustache.
– Is it it? Is it really it? » shouted the elves in chorus and at the top of their voices.
– Yes, definitely it is. I’ve been waiting for it for so long and Valentin sent it to us, from St-Maurice, a small town in Switzerland. I’m going to read it to you, otherwise you’re going to bug me until Christmas Day to find out what it says.
Hello Father Christmas,
My name is Valentin and I am six years old. I live with my dad, my mum and my big brother in St-Maurice. When I was little, with my brother’s help, I sent you my letters to ask you for the gifts I wanted to receive, and as I have always been very wise, I have received them all. Thank you again Father Christmas.
This year I don’t want any presents, because I am very sad for a friend who is very ill. My dad said he would need a miracle, so I thought of you, I am sure you can work miracles, if I believe very, very, very strongly.
So Father Christmas, please, can you work a miracle? It’s for my friend the fir tree, up there at the top of the Black Forest, you can’t go wrong, he’s all alone in the middle of a field of pebbles. He just needs you to send him some snow because he’s so thirsty. A beautiful coat of snow, he told me, which will make his needles shine again and give birth to new little fir trees. He is so lonely.
Thank you, Father Christmas.
Valentin who was wise
– That’s right, it’s all there. Valentin asks for nothing, neither for himself, nor for his family, nor for other people. First criterion fulfilled. Next, he wants to help nature, even though he realises that this might be impossible. Second and last criterion fulfilled. Here we go, setting the « Mother-of-Clouds » plan in motion. Quickly, quickly, we’re getting busy. Two elves at the reserve to fetch the chest of gemstones, two more to prepare the sledge and two more to harness the reindeer. The rest of you continue your work.
– Father Christmas! Father Christmas! Who will come with you to Mother-of-Clouds? You dare to go by yourself? I hear she’s very bad …
– But no, it’s just gossip! She’s always been charming to me and it’s not her fault that her voice scares everyone. You can hear all the thunders, lightnings and storms in the world. And in this cacophony, nobody can hear the snow, so shy, soft and silent. Mother-of-Clouds has owed me a favour for a long time, and Valentine’s letter is a timely reminder of her promise. And if that’s not enough, the chest of gemstones will sweeten her up. She always needs them to sprinkle the sky with them. What are you still doing here? Come on, quick, quick, let’s move. There’s not much time left.
Valentin couldn’t sleep, didn’t want to sleep. He had to keep thinking about his miracle, believing in it, again and again, and if he slept, he would lose an important time with no one to believe in it. He crawled out of bed, walked down the corridor at a snail’s pace so as not to wake his family and entered the living room where another fir tree, lit by a thousand lights, filled his eyes with stars. He stopped for a moment to contemplate it, but soon returned to his first objective: his sock. Had he heard from Father Christmas?
Standing on tiptoes, he slipped his fingers into the long red stocking. Yes, there was something there, a tiny little note folded and tucked away. He spread it out and carefully smoothed it out as he approached the window lit by the streetlamp. He couldn’t read very well yet, but the enchanted letter transmitted the message to him in the hollow of his ear.
I am very happy to have received your letter because this year you are the only little boy who, before thinking of him, thought of a living being in real need of help, a living being without being a person.
You know, Valentin, I can’t work miracles; my speciality is gifts. But fortunately for you, I know someone who does, miracles. Her name is Mother-of-Clouds, and when I told her about you, she was as happy as I was to see how much you wanted to help your tree. Well, I had to haggle a bit, she’s not very good at business. But a little birdie told me that she was always looking for gemstones to grind them into powder and make her clouds. So, she agreed to do this miracle for you, for your tree, and for all the children and forests of this world. And I, to thank her, I offered her a box of gemstones that was lying around my house. So, you see, it was a really small price for this miracle.
Why don’t you look out the window?
With all our affection.
On behalf of Father Christmas (Mother-of-Clouds, Mother Christmas, and all the elves)
So, he looked. And he saw it, the snow. Snowflakes, said the fir tree, big white flakes that fell silently and softly in front of his house. He opened the window, reached out his hand and picked one that melted in the palm of his hand. He observed the drop and put it on his lips.
– It’s water, it’s water all right. My tree, I’m so happy, you’re going to have a beautiful coat. I’ll ask Daddy and I’ll come back with him to say hello. I’m sure the next time we meet you’ll be in great shape and with lots of new friends.
Then, not at all worried about waking anyone up, he ran to his parents’ room and jumped on their bed.
– Daddy, Daddy, the snow has come back, the snow has come back. The miracle for my tree, Daddy! You were right, all you had to do was to believe in it very, very strongly. Daddy, come and see! Mummy, Mummy! You must come and see!
Once upon a time, high up in the Black Forest, at the side of the mountain, there was a huge, lonely fir tree. Looking towards the plain, he saw that all the leaves had fallen. Winter was there, a winter that no longer really deserved its name.
Suddenly, the message reached him from all directions. A little man had asked for and obtained a miracle. A little man had brought back the snow. A little man had fought to save his life, the lives of all of them.
When the first snowflakes landed on his branches, a huge sigh ran through the big tree and tears of sap silently slid down his trunk. All night long, the snow continued to fall until he shimmered like a crystal statue in the moonlight.
The fir tree was deeply moved and tilted his top:
– Little wolf cub, thank you… Little chick, thank you… Little man, thank you…