Trees know

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

provide refuge

absorb storms

soften hard edifices

beautify

welcome

are calming

are cooling

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…

Photo: Donnie Ray Jones. CC BY

12 thoughts on “Trees know

  1. Such beauty in these words and in the welcoming of children. The bus loop images are so clear and celebratory yet laced with caution which is the honest truth of our in person work right now. The trees are woven brilliantly into this piece. I am thankful for the trees and the children. All the best to you, today, Fran!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fran,

    “stood as sentinels in the misty gray morning” – such an inspiring image of teachers as the caregivers of little ones, waiting patiently for their charges to enter sacred halls of learning
    Your post has a strong message for all in these dismal times. We wait for winter knowing that there may be another change in the “climate” of learning. Thank you for the morning inspiration and alerting me that my URL was not active.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this! It makes me happy to think of you welcoming the kids, doing everything to keep them safe. I’m doing the same in another part of the world, and so many thousands of us are. It helps to know that.
    Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Fran, you hooked me from your first sentence and I felt your emotions through the whole piece! By the time I read your lines “sitting socially-distanced (alone) at lunch… I suspect these images are etched deep in my brain for the remainder of my days” I had tears in my eyes. “They are heroes” is correct, but don’t forget that all of the staff at your school including you are heroes, also.

    The timing of your quotation by Brian Andreas is perfect because this reader needed a mood change. Next, you effectively write a poem starting with “I think about how trees” sharing qualities about trees, which changes the mood to positivity, and you go back to writing prose facts about trees communicating with each other. Then, you bring us back to Brian’s quotation, “I cannot decide which is best” but leave the reader in suspense wanting to know your decision, and somehow, also invite the reader to also choose which they think is best.

    Next, you shift us to the beginning but change “they” to “I stand, a sentinel” effectively showing us the beauty and joy you see and feel “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…” leaving the reader joyful.

    Finally, you give the reader your decision! Wow! You are such a great writer and you make it seem so effortlessly. The above quotation from your essay is my favorite because I can see and feel your joy watching the red and orange “tree confetti,” smiling at the students, and thinking of jumping in the leaves.

    I love this powerful piece! You should jump in the leaves!

    “I’m bits of both.” also. Thank you so much, Fran.

    I read your essay the other day and started commenting on my phone, but became caught up and couldn’t finish. I saved it though and finished the rest on my computer. I always have so much that I want to say to you. I’m happy for you that you have your students back.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am deeply moved that you persevered to send this message – so thoughtful, so thorough. I am grateful for every word, Gail, and most of all that it struck such a chord. I loved writing it and the Andreas quote was my springboard – I swirled up and out from there 🙂

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s