There was once a mountain pass that saw armies passing though to do war every spring and their return in the fall of the year. The road was narrow and eroded. The mountainside long ago stripped of every tree to serve the needs of conflict. Half way though pass was a way station, a rest stop for men and their beasts. The rest stop was run by Old man. Old man lived in a small shack on the mountain side of the road. Directly across from his dwelling on the cliff side of the road lived an extremely old twisted and knotted tree. One day as Old man was making ready for spring a man on foot approached signaling to Old Man that pass was open and war would soon be passing through. Old man brought a pot of boiling water and sat beside the young warrior dressed in a farmers pants and shirt.They sipped tea waiting for the rice. Looking about him and trying to avoid appearing nervous the young man cursed himself for his fear of what would come of his impulsive departure from his fathers farm. "I'm just not cut out to be a farmer!" he blurted out. "A farmer, I thought you a warrior or a spear man at lest." old man genially teased him. "I will be! then the young man cast his eyers about seeking a new topic of conversation. "What happed to all the trees?" old man's eyes follow the young mans gaze. "Until 20 years ago woodsmen and huntsmen worked this mountain. Then a general sent his men to buy.They were seeking the best timber of the straightest growth with the tightest rings, dense wood to build fortifications and to fashion weapons out of. and the huntsmen were hired to feed the troops. As the war continued so the workmen stayed upon the mountain at first only the best trees were selected.Then the lessor trees went to fuel the war. until there was nothing left but the shrubberies." "What about that one shading your shack?"the young man pointed to it with his chop sticks as they ate. "That old tree? can't you see for your self? it's to twister to make lumber and to knotted to make a weapon of.. It clings to that shoulder at the edge of the cliff. Neither summer nor winter loosen it's grip upon the mountain. It suffers frost in the winter and drought in the summer. There's a break off the main trunk that harbors Beatles that chew away at it's strength, but can not really weaken the tree's structure. When the woodsmen came they passed it by, just to twisted and misshapen to bring a profit to them. "Can I get food and lodgings until the army passes though?" Old man pointed to a small room. Gave it's price and put on more water. "Has anyone gone through the pass ahead of me" asked the young man. "In every year but this one." Old man grumbled. "But they will come, this year I mean they will come this year? the young man almost pleading. "Oh I'd say so unless the peace has been made. Shouldn't be but a few days more and the weather permitting Prince and peasant will join in cause against prince and peasant." "Why?" Old man asked him. "I want to join up and my mother won't let me! That's why I came here. Last year she embarrassed me to death by refusing me permission to go. I'm just afraid she will find me before I find the Army " Old man looked a him again. "How old are you" he asked. "Almost 15, they took my cousin younger" the boy looked at Old man. "Do you know anyone one you can put a good word for me with, in the army I mean?" "No, no just me and the crippled tree for company." Old man nodded to the short gnarled and broken tree across the road from where they sat. As they sat quietly looking out over the valley The road wound it's way out of the low lands to the hills till only the mountain pass lay ahead. Several men road up, scouts for the army part time recruiters. The young man took note of there condition. they missed a hand here an eye there not one seemed complete. For some reason the old man kept returning the young man's attention to the old tree. Pointing out one infirmity after another. The evening passed with talk of war and victories. Loses and friends that had spent their lives to give life to war. As the company grew weary one man who seem to lead them asked the boy about his ambitions. Asked if he had what it took to weather the storms and adversities of warriors life. The boy saw his chance! But just as he was about to answer old man stepped between them asking the recruiter "Where did all the trees go!? They were just to useful to be left alone. Everyone loves a forest no one wants to plant a tree". The recruiter nodded his head in agreement but his intention was clearly still on the boy. The boy sat uneasy under his now focused gaze. There was to much liking in his smile To much impatience in his eyes to much sharpness in his voice. "How about it boy, you in the way of becoming a man? Learn to stand up for your self and your country! You can show the world what your made of and see your enemies fall to your clever spear." The boy wanted to run but knew he shouldn't. Wanted to explain but knew he couldn't Wanted to surrender but knew there was still a chance of victory. Immobilized without realizing it or moving his eyes he watched Old man cross the road and pour the water from their dinner dishes slowly over the roots of Old tree. As he released the water dripping with care a last light of the day rainbowed across the face of the falling water. The boy blinked rapidly and his heart pounded... The colored light struck him, hit him in the eyes and flowered within him. "No sir, I, I just can't. I've been throwing fits since my birth and my eyes do not see far away nor up close, just the middle distance. But if I stare to long at the middle distance I have a fit so mostly I try to keep my eyes closed. In the years that followed the Boy became a man and his mother visited him often and just as often she brought offerings to the first tree on the mountain. She teased him without end first crossing her eyes and then quaking,then pretending to fall over. That a tree had saved her son's life she had no doubt. A life which he now spent sipping tea and planting it's seed across the mountain to please Old man.