The mistletoe and the oak tree (a story)

The mistletoe and the oak tree

The oak was a proud tree. He bent and swayed with the breeze, but nothing much took him down. The water, earth and air made him a good home. And he stood tall and able against nature, even at most of it’s stormiest weather. Only fire was it’s enemy.

So when he saw seeds blowing his way in the wind, he thought nothing of it. What harm could seeds do? When the seeds flirted with him, he decided to flirt back. What harm could flirting do?

Then the seeds grew roots and dug into him a bit. But he was a tall tree… what harm could a few tendrils do?

He sang to the rooted seeds:

Cause I’ll just use you then I’ll set you free.
Baby, baby don’t get hooked on me. (Mac Davis)

And the mistletoe just giggled and dug in further. The oak really didn’t care much. What threat was a seed after all? Even if it was going deeper. He had room to spare. He was tall and strong. And the seed roots were very little to him. Even after the plant grew, the bush grew. the flowers grew. And the birds came.

Till one day the oak realized that he was starting to get sick. He was getting weak and didn’t have the fortitude he used to.

His song that he sang to the mistletoe changed:

I like to see you But then again
That doesn’t mean you mean that much to me
I’m not in love, no no, it’s because
Ooh you’ll wait a long time for me
Ooh you’ll wait a long time (10CC)

As he withered and died, the mistletoe started sending seeds out to nearby plants. Birds started building their nests in it’s bush and in the oak tree. Squirrels started building nests and storing their acorns in it’s holes and crannies. There was nothing they could do to save the tree’s life, but they would honour it’s form. It’s ghost would be a good home for them.

And the mistletoe’s bush started to die with the oak’s last breath.

The birds and the squirrels heard her soft song:

Can’t let go and it doesn’t matter how I try
I gave it up
So easily
To you my love
To dreams that never will come true
Am I strong enough to see it through
Go crazy is what I will do
If I can’t have you
I don’t want nobody baby (Yvonne Elliman)

The birds, animals and other trees nearby told the story for years after. About the seeds that had taken down a mighty oak. Before the mistletoe had died, mourning her actions. But not before seeds had been imbedded in other oaks nearby. It was a contagion.


It was a love song, about life and the journey of the oak and the mistletoe. Yet it was also about pride and parasitic behaviour that is never taken quite as seriously somehow as other predators are. We all know to stay away from a snake or a hungry lion. We all know to stay away from a bog or forest fire. But the most common threat to a mighty oak is a mistletoe’s seed.

In human terms, the manly man was taken down by a woman who he thought was no threat at all. Who little by little took over his life, till he couldn’t breathe, and died in her arms. Because he was crowded out by her needs.

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