The Tree and the Giraffe


An African tree once watched over all the animals who ate from its branches. The tree was happy and never became angry at the animals because so many of its branches reached far above the ground, far out of reach of most animals, and it had many, many leaves to spare. It was a very generous and sharing tree.

Among the animals who ate from the tree were the little giraffes. Oh, yes, they were only little giraffes, for this was a long, long, long time ago, before giraffes ever had long necks. Back then, the giraffes were short, much like the other animals, such as zebras and gazelles.

One day, there was one particular giraffe who was just a little bit taller — whose neck was just a little longer than all the other giraffes — and he, not wanting to appear strange or out of place, kept his head down low, and ate with all of the other giraffes. Food was scarce on the African plain, and keeping one’s head down had its drawbacks.

One day, while eating with the other giraffes, a leaf-filled branch just above his head whispered in his ear. “Psst. Hey, look up here! All you have to do is reach up just a little higher and you can eat all these fresh leaves that all the other animals cannot reach!”

The giraffe did, and he ate heartily from the branches just above the heads of all the other, slightly-shorter giraffes, but wondered, as he ate, what the others might think of him, and worried that he might lose his friends.

The next day, while eating from the tree, he heard the tree speak again, “Psst. Hey, look up here. All you have to do is reach up just a little higher and you can eat all these fresh leaves all the other animals cannot reach.” But this time the tree wasn’t speaking to him. The voice had came from the other side of the tree.

He looked across and saw another giraffe’s head rise up and begin eat from the higher leaves just like he did. It was a lady giraffe, and the male giraffe smiled sheepishly at her from the other side of the tree. She returned his smile.

The next day, when the two giraffes went over to eat from the tree, they recognized each other and decided to eat near each other and have a chat. Being just a little bit taller than all the others, they found they were able to eat and chat together, undisturbed, and got to know each other quite well. After a time, a little romance sparked between them. And being able to find food much more easily than the others meant having some spare time on their hands. And, in that spare time, they snuck off behind some rocks to kindle their romance. And, behind those rocks, they did things. Naughty things, some would consider. They did things they might have been embarrassed of if the other giraffes saw.

And, not long after that, babies were born of those two giraffes who had sparked their romance with their heads stuck up in the tree slightly higher than all the others.

And, because those little giraffes were born of parents who were both just a little bit taller than the rest, the babies seemed to be just a little bit extra tall. They looked, in fact, like they just might grow up to have even longer necks — to be even taller than their parents!

But they weren’t alone.

Truth be told, that day way back when, other trees had been busy speaking to other giraffes who were also just a little bit taller than all the rest.

Giraffe and Tree assembly

And those giraffes, too, it turns out, had sparked romances with other tallish giraffes who had their heads stuck up in the leaves and who also had much spare time on their hands. And those giraffes had snuck off behind some rocks to do naughty things. Naughty, naughty things. Things that made funny noises and scared the birds away.

After a time, there were quite a few offspring of those giraffes who were a just little bit taller than all the rest. And this new generation of giraffes ate among the higher leaves and met each other in the exact same way as those who came before. And, while the shorter giraffes struggled and foraged with much effort among the lower branches with all the other short animals, and had no time left for romance at all, these taller giraffes enjoyed the spare time and luxury of romance that came with.

Soon, the many couples made up of these taller giraffes made off to kindle their various romances. Some hid behind rocks, and some did it quite out in the open. (Oh, my!) And scandal rang through the African plain. The shorter giraffes were weary of it all and pretended not to see the naughty, naughty things the taller giraffes did to one another. But there was much naughtiness, indeed.

Before long, young giraffes were born to these gangs of taller-than-usual giraffes who ate from the higher leaves and, because all these young giraffes were born from parents who were uncommonly tall, then they, in fact, grew to become taller than all the rest. And these even-taller giraffes found that they were able to eat from even higher branches, still.

Undisturbed and unencumbered by the worries beset by the smaller animals or even shorter giraffes (who were now becoming in short supply), they found that they had very easy lives, eating from higher leaves than anyone else and, as a consequence, also had much spare time on their hands. Romances grew all around, and those giraffes, once having their fill of leaves, set off to kindle and consummate their relationships.

But now, there were not nearly enough rocks to hide behind and, by then, there was not much shame to be found. The giraffes did their bit all over town. What a scene it was, giraffes grappling like wrestlers — these funny-shaped animals struggling to get a hold, and they worked to do the things their animal minds told them to do…  all hooves and necks, kicking up dust. Many animals of the African plain simply couldn’t bear to watch. Others couldn’t bear not to.

And, in the Spring, there were more giraffes. Many more. And, though they were young, they had exceptionally long necks — longer than any giraffe had seen yet, because, as before, their parents, both, were uncommonly tall, and possessed very long necks themselves.

And, after that, the tall-giraffe dating scene became a thing of legend. The tallest giraffes were able to find food quite easily, and had an abundance of time. Many met and fell in love, and the African plain became awash with romance, and all the naughtiness that came with it. And all the time, when they were done eating from the tall trees who never complained but merely smiled down upon them, all the giraffes ran from the trees, and everyone knew what was to come next. All the other animals turned their heads. And the mamma and pappa animals of all sorts covered the eyes of their young ones. There were animal noises and clouds of dust, and much grappling and grunting (with occasional breaks down by the water hole to rehydrate). It was a big mess of… ah… romance, in all different places, and as much and as often as the tall giraffes could manage. And the sights and sounds of giraffe love making echoed through the African plain.

And it all went on and on. For eons, as the generations of trees rolled by — as they grew from seeds into seedlings, and those seedlings grew into adult trees, became ancient and died, each of them watched and encouraged many generations of giraffes to go about their way of eating leaves just a little bit higher, meeting their mates and running off to be naughty. And when the trees that grew the very oldest had grandchildren and great grandchildren who did the same, the giraffes finally became the long-necked, beautiful, animals we see today.

God didn’t give giraffes their long necks, you idiot; this is how evolution works!

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