The Indians believe that the secret of happiness comes from giving to others. Many, many moons ago when the Great Spirit first put man on the earth, man was frightened. “Where will I find food and water?” he asked. The trees laughed softly. “We are your brothers,” they said. “We will help you.”
The maple tree spoke up: “I will give you sweet water to drink and make into sugar.” The elm tree said, “Use my soft bark to make your baskets and tie them together with my tough muscles.” The hickory tree said, “My cousins and I will fill your baskets with sweet nuts.” And he called the chestnut, beech, and walnut to help him. The great pine tree whispered softly, “When you get tired, little brother, I will make you a bed. My cousins the balsam and cedar will help me.”
There was sunshine in man’s heart as he set out to explore his new world. But soon he came to a deep, wide river. “How will I ever cross the river?” man asked. The trees laughed and laughed. “Take my white skin,” said the birch. “Sew it together with the muscles of the elm tree and you can make a boat that will carry you across the widest river.”
When he sun crossed the sky to his lodge in the west, man felt cold. Then the balsam fir tree whispered to him, “Little brother, there is much sunfire in my heart. Rub my branches together and you will make a fire.” So man made fire.
And that night he slept soundly on the branches of the great pine tree. The north wind blew cold, but there was sunshine in the heart of man.
Now when Indian children ask how they can repay their friends, the trees, a wise man answers, “They do not ask for payment. But you can give them care and attention. You can give lose and care to every plant and flower that makes your life beautiful.”