The trees gathered together for a council of war.
“Let us,” they said, “drive the sea back, and so extend our dominion across the world.”
Many were the plans they made, the cunning strategies they devised.
Not quickly did they lay the courses of their design — for the trees do nothing in haste.
Three trees spoke longest on the subject of the war: the oak, the blackthorn, and the ash.
And the rest in their order behind them.
The waters of the sea gathered together in the deep places of the earth.
“Let us devour the land,” they said.
“Let us swallow the nations whole, and every living thing, that all might be as it was in the first days.”
And out they went again through the doors of the earth, through the gate of earthquakes.
No plans they laid; who can impose order upon the movement of the oceans?
The trees marched to the waters in battle array.
The seas swelled and grew stormy with their wrath.
But the trees could not live beneath the salt tides, and the sea could not cross the sand.
And so all their grave designs came to nothing.
And along the coast the fishermen looked westward and chewed gravely on their pipestems.
“Uncertain weather,” they said.
The curl of their smoke smudged across the sky, a faint and dissolving thumbprint.