There have always been stories about the origin of the land and the life that calls it home. Before there was science, those stories came from imagination and spirituality. In this series, I have created contemporary nature photography to illustrate them. Read more about my Legends of the Land series.
There was a time when marriage wasn’t just for people — trees and shrubs got married too. But they don’t anymore and it’s because of a tree that was too quick to judge a beautiful potential bride.
Fig cherished her role as matchmaker. Along every forest trail were dozens of happy couples she helped pair up. Alder was about the only tree in the forest who wasn’t in a relationship.
“Quick! There’s someone you just have to meet!”
“Not today,” Alder replied. “It’s a beautiful spring day. I think I’m just going to sun myself.”
Alder was all about himself. His appearance mattered more to him than anything else. He wasn’t even really aware there was anything else.
Months later, after seeing how happy everyone else was, he thought perhaps it was time for him to settle down and plant roots, if you will. He thought again about Fig’s offer and decided to take her up on it.
“Sure, I’ll take you to see her,” Fig said. “Her name is Rhododendron.”
Rhododendron was by all means a catch. She had an absolutely beautiful soul and, for part of the year, was one of the most beautiful things in the forest.
Winter, however, was not one of those times.
“I can’t be seen with ... that!” Alder exclaimed, pointing to her blackened leaves and decaying flowers. “I have an image to maintain.”
“You’re making a huge mistake,” Fig said.
The following spring Alder and Fig were walking in the forest when Alder was overcome by the beauty in front of him. He couldn’t take his eyes off her vibrant scarlet blossoms. All the forest creatures were surrounding her, singing about her beauty.
“Look at her. She’s absolutely beautiful,” Alder exclaimed! “She’s my type! I will marry her! Fig, make the arrangements!”
Then Rhododendron spoke up.
“I cannot marry you,” she said. “You rejected me last winter. I could never be with someone who has such a fickle heart.”
Distraught, Alder rushed to a bluff and threw himself off, landing in a deep ravine below.
That’s why alder trees, even today, are typically found only in ravines — and why the ruler of the forest will no longer allow trees to fall in love.
— Based on a Nepalese legend
(Learn more about Kevin Ebi's newest book, Living Wilderness, the first comprehensive portfolio of his fine-art images and download a free preview. Follow his photography on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram .)