Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Crooked Tree

I wrote this a few years ago for a scrapbook page that I did. I've always loved to write - I guess I have an English degree for some reason! I was cleaning up MS Word and stumbled upon it...thought I'd share.

There is was; a bare, crooked tree that had stood on my grandmother’s land for as long as I could remember. It looked like something Mother Nature had thrown out - a “mess up” maybe. It’s gnarled branches and bent trunk had always looked a bit scary to me as a child, and I remember wondering what happened to give this tree such an appearance. My mother said it had always looked that way, even when she was a child. This was the only explanation I had ever received, and it satisfied me at the time.
My brother, Dale, and his wife made a home on this land and now the crooked tree lives in their front yard. My five year old son, Caleb, became quite interested in the tree on a walk with his uncle. He, however, was not satisfied with a simple explanation.
“Uncle Dale, you have lots of tall trees in your yard.”
“Yes, Caleb, they have been here growing for a very long time. Even before I was born.”
“Did someone plant the seeds to make the trees?”
“Seeds get blown around in the wind and they plant themselves, but people can plant tree seeds too.”
“Uncle Dale, how did this tree get so crooked? It doesn’t look like the rest of the trees.”
“I don’t know Caleb, it’s been a crooked tree for a very long time. Nobody quite remembers how it got that way.”
So, the conversation went this way for a while, my brother trying to explain away the curiosities of a precocious five year old. As they ambled through the woods, they continued their commentary on the natural world around them. Even as Uncle Dale pointed out squirrel nests and deer tracks, Caleb still seemed preoccupied. As it was time for the walk to come to an end, Caleb was ready to announce his grand conclusions to the mystery of the crooked tree, his mind still churning with information.
“Uncle Dale, I know why it is that your tree is so crooked.”
“Please tell me, Caleb, I’d love to know,” replied Uncle Dale, anxiously awaiting Caleb’s explanation.
“It’s really simple: someone wasn’t paying attention and they planted the seed crooked. A crooked planted seed, gives you a crooked growing tree.”
So, it was that simple. I wondered why, as an adult, I hadn’t thought of this before. Maybe Caleb’s conclusions weren’t exactly correct, but we do know that the example we set for our children when they are growing and impressionable will have a profound effect on their lives as adults. They are watching and learning from every move we make, every word we speak. I often think of Caleb and this crooked tree before I make decisions, before I lose my patience. I have to be very careful, as a mother, not to plant any “crooked seeds.” I want my children to grow into tall and mighty oaks. Many lessons were learned on that afternoon walk. I will never look at the “crooked tree” in quite the same way.
The inspiration received from this tree and this story will live in my scrapbook. Perhaps future generations will learn from the crooked tree, and from the innocent wisdom of a five year old. Perhaps Mother Nature didn’t “mess up” after all.


Anonymous said...

Great story! It's so true that children (even grown ones like mine) are always watching us, and when they're young, they are so impressionable.

Something that crossed my mind while reading this post is that perhaps something happened to the tree, and yet despite whatever assaults it suffered, the tree continued to live...not in a straight, majestic way perhaps, but it survived nevertheless. It's tough!

connie said...

I loved your story! Out of the mouths of "babes" comes much inspiration. You have so many talents. Thank you for sharing.