Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Statue to the Seasons

I stood alone on the plains and learned to bend at the whims of the winds.  In the beginning I was a little whippet of a tree.  My roots were shallow allowing me to drink in the water from the frequent spring rains.  I grew so quickly that my trunk did not expand and grow to give me the strength I needed to withstand the harsh winds and winters on the plains, so I leaned away from the winds until at last my trunk could stand tall and grow towards the clouds.  Then, I stood strong.  I knew to grow toward the clouds, the ever changing scenes they cast gave me strength and willpower.   I survived the storms and my family grew all around me creating a circle of cottonwoods all learning to dance while young and supple.  

The twins grew together west of my corner on the field, fighting for survival against the same elements I battled, and  yet, like a proud father I surveyed the lands and watched my saplings grow and change with seasons.    Droughts occurred and I stood still in the heat, my roots pushed and groaned through the dry black soil in search of water.  I let my leaves turn yellow and drop early to the ground in the seasons without rains.  

One year the rains turned to ice before my top heavy leaves dropped to the ground.  During the frozen night I felt as my spine cracked, groaned, and split, but still I stood strong.  More seasons passed as I stood broken and split and I waved and watched as animals on two legs, four legs, and those on wings came my way.  Noises often caused my branches to bend in search of meows and growls.  Many animals called me home and I protected them from the winds, cold, rains, and other animals. 

More seasons passed, and one spring as I gazed over the prairie as the sunset blazed and roared approaching me, not setting behind the lands end.  The deer ran, the birds took flight, the mice buried themselves deep between my roots, but I stood strong.  When it bit me, it felt like nothing I'd ever experienced.  It was a hot scorching flame that burned me and my family.  My browns turned black.

 My green leaves popped and burst and were swept into the ashen air.  When at last the burning sensation set I was stiff, stricken with pain.  The young sprouts around me were tiny black sticks still standing and pointing toward the clouds.

The rains came back followed by the whims of the winds, and I stood strong.  Once again the green grass grew tall on the prairie and I guarded those who needed shelter.  It was the season of brown grass and cold North winds that took its toll on my broken body causing me to fall.  My frozen limbs were no match for the endless days of snow and ice.  One night I felt the crack and suddenly the ground caught my limbs and heavy trunk.  
Now, I remain a statue now to the seasons, to those I protected, and to those who glanced my way.

Facing NE.  It stood like this for several years.

Bethany Krafels took this shot facing West.
Amazing isn't it, the influence of ONE tree.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Miami Memories: The Book that Changed my Life

The articles "A" and "The" make a major difference in how the reader interprets the line.  Using "A" book in the title suggests that any book might work, whereas, using "The" plainly states that only one book fits this description.  Naturally, my mind wonders and can make a list, a long list of books that have made a difference in my life, but I'm asking myself and my readers to name only one and how did it change your life.

At age five my mother enrolled me in first grade at a Catholic school for several reasons:  one, I had a new baby sister at home and mother's hands were full (after all she was nearly forty!); two, she called me precocious and inquisitive, not two highly prized skills in that first grade class ruled by a nun with a ruler in her hand.  I quickly learned that straight lines, formal behavior, no talking, no chewing gum were the keys to survival.  This little five year old became lost in the structure, but luckily, the windows were tall and wide and the trees outside beckoned my eyes and imagination to wonder.  

By the end of the year we moved away and a book character, found on the shelves of the Miami, Oklahoma Public Library, entered my life and lifted my tiny trodden spirits.

 Madeline and her many adventures showed me then, and to this day, that even the tiniest of us could be strong and courageous.  My tonsillitis surgery at age four rivaled her appendix surgery; we both nearly drowned.   She was everything I wanted to be: lively, curious, adventurous, and willing to stand up for herself.  She changed my life.

Madeline's Rescue by Ludwig Bemelmans (excerpt)

In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines
Lived 12 little girls in two straight lines,
They left the house at half past nine.
The smallest one was Madeline.
She was not afraid of mice,
She loved winter, snow, and ice.
To the tiger in the zoo
Madeline just said, "Pooh Pooh!"
And nobody knew so well
How to frighten Miss Clavel--
Until the day she slipped and fell.
Poor Madeline would now be dead
But for a dog that kept his head, 
And dragged her safe from a watery grave.
"From now on, (spoke Clavel) I hope you will listen to me,
And here is a cup of camomile tea."

What Book Changed Your Life? How or Why?  Please fix a hot cup of tea, reflect, and respond to my question.

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