Monday, October 29, 2018

A Tree and Its Leaves


There’s a particular tree out behind the barn whose leaves are the first to turn when summer fades to fall. I took a few pictures as that process began again and as I did I found myself looking at that magnificent tree with even greater wonder. I’m not sure why. It could have been the softness of the sun or the quiet of the small meadow where the tree stands tall reaching to the heavens with late season wildflowers spreading about in the tall grass.

As September rolled on, the tree kept pulling me back to take more pictures as its leaves became drenched in vibrant colors and the scents of pumpkins and apples told the story of a most magical season evolving into the next.

When I went out back one day this past week I found the tree about barren. It looked tired in October’s shadows. I couldn’t figure out how that had happened. It seemed like only yesterday that its branches were dressed in leaves of oranges and reds. Its spirit seemed strong no matter how hard the wind blew or the rain fell.

The evolution of the leaves is similar to our looking back at the stages of our own lives and wondering where the time went. But don’t dwell too long. Life is full of surprises. Like this morning when waking up to an early season snowfall  covering the ground along with the leaves and turning one tired looking tree out back behind the barn into a sparkling and vibrant tree reaching to the heavens.  

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Monster in the Smoke Stack


My mother was a RN. When I was very young she worked nights at our local hospital, eventually becoming Charge Nurse in the ER. She worked nights so my father could be home with me and my older brother.

On the nights she had to work my mother would feed us early. Then she’d give us our baths; put us in our pajamas and with what time was left, she’d get herself ready. I loved watching my mother as she transformed from mother to a professional; dressed in a flawless white, crisp uniform with white nylons and white polished duty shoes. Her hair was out of the pin curls she’d had in place most of the day. Once she styled her hair, my mother would take bobby pins and secure her starched white cap with a black ribbon around the bottom in place while not messing up her hairdo. On cold nights she’d wear her nurse’s cape. It was navy blue with the initials of the hospital on the turned-up collar. As soon as my father arrived I was carried to the car and put in the back seat with my brother. While we made the short trip to the hospital, my father’s dinner was warming in the oven. I am sure he enjoyed his meal once we were in bed sleeping.

That short trip was always fun. That is until the hospital came into view. That’s when my brother and I became very quiet as the very tall and very frightening smoke stack adjacent to the hospital was looming above us once again. On some evenings, especially in October when shadows seemed longer and spookier and purple clouds rolled behind tall dark trees void of leaves; their branches looking like witch’s scratchy fingernails, we were certain a monster came flowing out of the top of that smokestack. Sometimes, especially when the wind was blowing, that monster came right over the top of our car. That’s when we’d duck down in our seats. After we waited a few minutes, we both looked out the back window and watched the monster drift away. We never knew where he went. But we knew we’d be seeing him again when the wind was blowing and there was a nip in the air.

That smoke stack is still in place adjacent to the hospital. I’ve yet to see the monster. But it is October. You never know.