Yesterday they came back.
Just a few of them.
The others will have their turn, soon. For now they wait in the wings and on the screens…
In a month when masks are normally worn for celebrating, they came masked for protection—of others.
Several of us stood as sentinels in the misty gray morning, waiting, also masked. Gloved, thermometers ready, when the first bus rolled up and its door opened to release three children.
Another bus carried only one.
But when the first child passed inspection and entered the building, the gathered staff cheered. Applauded. Like welcoming a hero home.
They are heroes.
These kindergarteners, these first, second, third graders in their colorful masks, quietly navigating the building, sitting socially-distanced (alone) at lunch… I suspect these images are etched deep in my brain for the remainder of my days.
I saw this verse on a StoryPeople print by Brian Andreas (1993):
When I die, she said, I’m coming back as a tree with deep roots & I’ll wave my leaves at the children every morning on their way to school & whisper tree songs at night in their dreams. Trees with deep roots know about the things that children need.
I think about how trees
help us breathe
cleanse the air
soften hard edifices
change with the seasons, yet remain constant
color the world
Tree leaves do whisper. Trees talk to each other (they do). They live in groups and look out for one another.
They carry the stories they live within them. You can read them, in their rings.
I cannot decide which is best, to be the tree with deep roots, waving my leaves at the children on the way to school, singing in their dreams…or to be the child, asleep, hearing the tree-song…
I stand, a sentinel in the gray silence of the empty bus loop, masked, gloved, thermometer in hand, watching bits of red and yellow and fiery orange swirling through the air as if stirred by an unseen hand… tree confetti, celebrating life, letting go in order to hold on through the coming winter, who knows how dark or cold, and I’m seized by the sudden desire to run into those dancing colors…
—I am bits of both.
Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for the invitation to share on Slice of Life Tuesdays and for also knowing about the things that children need. They, too, carry their stories within them…