When the Storm God Rides, by Florence Stratton, collected by Bessie M. Reid , at sacred-texts.com
There was no finer looking tree in the forests than the sweet gum in the days before the sweet gum knew what it was to cry. High and straight in the woods it rose. Its leaves were like stars of shining green. Its green seed balls, covered with tiny spikes to keep the seeds away from birds, swung on their stems as the wind blew. Birds liked to build their nests among the sweet gum's branches in spring. These things made the tree proud. It lifted its green head as high as it could, and it reached higher toward the sky than all the other trees.
There was one thing the sweet gum did
not understand. The redbirds never built their nests in its boughs. One day a redbird came to the tree and the sweet gum asked why it never built a nest there. "Why do you never stay long when you light on my boughs?" asked the tall tree.
The redbird answered, "I like to sit among your branches and look over the country, but you grow too tall, like the pine tree. Those who dwell in the sky do not want things on earth to come too close to them. They send down the lightning to keep the things of earth away from the clouds. Lightning strikes the pine tree, and one of these days it might strike you."
It happened at last just as the wise redbird had said. A storm came up one
day. The lightning lashed its forked tongues across the sky and with a loud crash it struck into the top of the tall sweet gum. Ever since then the children of the sweet gum tree have been weeping clear amber tears down their trunks, because they fear that when they are grown and their heads are over those of the other trees the lightning will strike them too. It often happens that way.