THERE wis a strang snell wind blawin, the kind that feels sharp and cuts through yer body and chills yer banes. It wis Hogmanay and Jamie wis trying tae get hame fir it. But noo he wondered if he’d left it ower lang tae leave. The sun wis already low doon in the sky, and the wee bit sunshine wis fir show, not effect, as nae warmth wis in it. He hud aboot seven miles still tae go, and langed fir the warmth o’ his hearth, the welcome o’ his bairns and embrace frae his dear wife, Heather.

But the sun wis dying fast, and the heavens were beginning tae tak their turn tae shine in the winter nicht’s sky. Soon Jamie foond himsel in dairkness, wi naethin but a sliver o’ the moon and the stars tae guide his way.

It wis sae dairk, and he wis sae tired, that he wandered aff his path. There wis nae hoose tae get directions and he couldnae even see the silhouette o’ the Lammermuirs tae give him a sense o’ direction. He wis lost. But mair than that, he realised he wis gettin gye cauld, and if he didnae find shelter soon he may be deid afore the year wis.

He minded his faither’s sayin “when a deadly wind blaws, seek yer beild; be it a hame or bush”. There wis nae windae licht tae be seen, sae Jamie looked in the dairkness for a bush.

He fouod an elder tree, grawin alane. It wis all bent owre by years of defyin the wind. He decided tae coorie in under its branches, at least fir a wee while tae gie him some respite frae the biting wind.

Despite the fact the branches were bare, they were woven thegither, makin a wee den which gaed shelter. It wis just in time, fir the wind’s mood worsened, and the blawing became a ragin blizzard. Jamie lay under the elder’s branches and tucked in his jaicket and pu’d doon his bonnet. He sae wanted tae be hame, but he kent the storm noo wanted his life, and this tree wis his only protection frae it.

He closed his een, and sicht’s of hame flickered in his mind. He didnae ken where he wis but he kent he couldnae be that far frae hame. His bairns and his beloved Heather wud be sair worried aboot him. He willnae be wi them noo fir the bells. It made him want tae risk venturing oot, but then the tree seemed tae whisper tae him: “Bide here son, I’ll keep ye safe. I’ve seen mony storms, they mak lang nichts, but they ay pass.”

Jamie understood.

It wis indeed a lang nicht but the elder kept the frozen claws o’ the blizzard awa frae Jamie, as he lay under its branches, catching wee bits of sleep. Finally the morn arrived as the sun rose frae the sea, and spread its golden rays across the land. Jamie pu’d himself up, hud a wee shoogle tae clear the snaw frae his claes and looked aroond. The cauld sunshine streaked ower the snaw-covered land, makin it sparkle.

“Och, I dinnae believe it!” he said tae himself, as he recognised exactly where he wis. The tree hud bin richt; the storm hud passed and he was alive, although cauld and noo very hungry.

He set aff hame, but stopped fir a moment tae turn roond an look at the elder tree. Its bare branches hud been sculpted by the wind, and wi the backgroond o’ snaw, it looked like a figure bent ower; an image o’ an auld wummin makin a bield fir her bairn.

“Thank ye,” he said tae the tree.

Jamie arrived hame afore noon on New Year’s Day. He wis the first footer fir his ain hoose. He warmed himsel by the hearth and wi the welcome and love o’ his bairns and dear wife. He hud a tale tae tell; of how an elder tree saved his life. And tell it he did, sae lang aifter this the elder became kent in the neighbourhood as ‘Jamie’s Tree’.

And frae that day, Jamie wud often tak a wee detour oan his travels tae visit the tree. He’d tak his barins tae see it bloom in the spring and tae pick its berries in late summer. The bairns and their mither, Heather, gied thanks tae the tree as weel.

It ne’er agin spake tae Jamie; mebe it ne’er did. Mebe it hud just bin his imagination. But he wud speak tae it as he wud sit under it, and think oan that nicht when his decision tae stay safe under its branches hud saved his life.