The Man Whose Arms Grew Branches

Many lifetimes ago, the tree began, I was a child, a human child in my native Iceland.

I used to run through the fields and the forests, and play with my brothers and sisters in the long summer days.

The world was perfect then, and we used to be thankful for the warmth on our faces, and for the soft ground beneath our feet. But most of all, we were thankful for the trees. We would climb them, carve our names on their trunks, swing from them, and lie in their branches, talking of all the adventures we would have in the years ahead.

One summer evening, I climbed to the very top of a soaring beech tree, and looked out over the forest. The view was astonishing – a carpet of green, an immensity that could never be dominated, even by Man. Or so I thought.

Years passed and, before I knew it, I was no longer a child – but an adult with a wife and children of my own. However hard I worked in the town I never had enough money to make ends meet.

My wife used to scold me, declaring that I didn’t strive hard enough in the market. My problem was that there just wasn’t enough work. Then, one day, I overheard a wealthy man telling a stall-keeper that he had made a fortune in the timber business. He had got the right to chop down trees in a land to the west of our own.