The Legend of the Tamarak By Dennis Purschke

This is a story of a tree which has been told and has yet to be told; a story of a tree that has lived in glory and will now live in glory once again.

Back in the days when Mother Earth was very young everything of Mother Earth had a spirit. This included birds and animals, rocks and sky, trees and water. Each was happy being a part of what the Great Spirit had created. Time and seasons flowed like a swift moving river.

In the far Northern land of Nunavut, when the fall season was changing into winter, a flock of birds was heading south on their seasonal migration. Part way through their journey the first great storm of winter descended without warning. It was especially ferocious because the North Wind had just been released from the grip of Summer and Fall and wanted to celebrate its release with a big blow. The frantic birds could sense the danger and hurried to find shelter. Still, being so far North, the only shelter the weakening birds could see in the distance were the majestic Tamarack trees.

Now in those days Tamarack trees were indeed the most majestic trees in the forest. They grew bigger and taller than any other tree in the North for they had thick branches full of needles soft as feathers to keep them warm through out the winters. These soft needles also allowed them to live farther North where no other tree could thrive and because of this they had become very proud and spent all of their summers admiring their reflection in the northern lakes and ponds beside which they grew. For some unknown reason on that particular day during that particular storm when the birds needed shelter the most, the Majestic Tamarack Trees said, "NO! You cannot land on us! We are starting our winter sleep and your noisy antics will keep us awake! Go and find another place to ride out the storm." and the majestic Tamarack trees closed their branches. Tired and cold the birds were forced to fly on.

The Great Spirit had watched the entire drama unfold and became very disappointed with the Tamarack Trees and in an effort to teach them a lesson declared, "Because you did not give your brothers and sisters the birds any shelter; neither will you have shelter from the cold of winter and from now on your needles will fall off like the leaves of the trees to the South." All of a sudden the slumbering Tamarack awakened to feel the chilling wind on their branches. They watched helplessly as their warm winter coat fell to the ground. The Winters were very, very hard for the Tamarack. In the years that followed they gradually learned to weather the cold by becoming smaller and more unassuming and at the same time they became stronger and more durable.

The Tamarack Trees learned from their error and to show their regret at what they had done, they were determined to become a servant of the First Nations People who inhabited the land. This pleased the Great Spirit who then decided to bestow on the Tamarack trees a new and great honour and with help from the spririt of the Muskeg, nutrients were released into the trees allowing them to beccome a source of much needed medicine and tools for generations to come.

Many many years later while traveling in the woods, a man had stopped for a rest. With his back to a young Tamarack tree, and surrounded by peace of the forest,he fell into a deep sleep. He dreamed that he was traveling through a forest of Tamarack. When he stopped to touch their soft needles, he sensed that they were speaking to him. As he listened, they told him the story of their long ago experience, and assured him that the forgotten legend had really happened.

Then, a young Tamarack, that was eager for some adventure, offered to accompany him on his journey, so that he could be a support and companion for him on the trail. He was very touched by this young trees’ offer and decided to honor the young trees’ request. All of the other trees watched as the man took out his hunting knife, cut down, trimmed, pealed and smoothed the young tree into a Tamarak Hiking Stick. By the time he was finished, many of the other young trees were eagerly volunteering themselves for the honor and adventure of being a support and companion for the ever increasing numbers of people that were walking the many nature trails of the vast land.

On awakening the man felt a deep connection with the particular tree he had rested upon. He took out his hunting knife and just as in his dream cut down the Tamarack tree. He too trimmed, peeled and smoothed the young Tamarack. When he had finished , he felt as though it belonged by his side. Whenever he hiked with his Tamarak Hiking Stick it was with a renewed vigor in his step, and a new sense of unity and oneness with all nature; the trees and water, with birds and animals, with earth and sky. While relaxing at the end of the day when his hike was done he would look at his Tamarak. It's old scars and new scratches from the many trails would take him back to the times and places they were made.

See also Tamarak Wilderness Products Ltd.