The Douglas Fir and the Mouse

Adapted from an old legend.

Long ago a fire ravaged the forest, burning everything in its path. A little mouse raced through the trees, but could not outrun the flames. He asked every tree he passed for help. “Help!” he cried to the aspen tree. “Can you save me?”

“Keep running, little mouse, for I cannot save myself from this fire.”

The mouse ran to a juniper tree. “Help, help!”

“I can’t help you,” the juniper said. “I will die in the fire.”

The mouse ran from tree to tree, but none of them could save him, until he found a Douglas fir tree. “Please, Douglas fir, can you help me?”

The Douglas fir said, “Yes, the flames cannot harm my bark. I will survive this fire. Hide in my cones.”

The mouse scampered to the highest branches and squeezed between the scales of a cone. Douglas fir called to the other frightened mice and they also hid in its cones. The raging flames swirled around them. The hair was singed off the tails of the mice, but the Douglas fir’s thick, furrowed bark wasn’t harmed. The tree and the mice were safe. Today, you can still see the mice hiding in the cones with their bald tails and hinds legs hanging out.

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