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Long ago I was
a small seed being blown across the prairie with many other seeds.
Some of us came to rest in a low spot and were covered by dust and
sand - end of the trail. The rains came, we took root, and slowly
I became a tree, as did some of my friends. Others became bushes,
flowers and grass.
Much later settlers came and cut down
some of us to lay out streets and raise buildings. Around me they
built a school, and, when summer ended, it filled with small fry.
I liked that, as I was on the playground. They were my friends, though
they didn't know it. They would scamper around me playing games. They
climbed through me looking for bird nests and swung from my branches
so much they wore away my bark. My other tree friends gave me the
Indian name "Worn Smooth by Little Hands."
Sometimes the teachers cut switches
from me to use on the kids. I wasn't sure about that until one was
switched for trying to burn one of my branches. (I'm glad he got it.)
Kids ate their lunches around me, and
teachers held classes beneath me. Of the trees for miles around, I
Each night while the village slept,
we trees laughed and swayed at the things that had happened. The stories
were so funny and life so good, we didn't notice the years go by.
Before I could drop a leaf, the kids
were teenagers arranging in secret to meet under me. These romances
bloomed and thrived, sometimes interrupted by war, college, or distant
jobs. Some of the young never came back; others did - to embrace under
me, as I gave my blessing.
I was known at "the tree." Out-of-towners
were told to look for "the tree." Families picnicked under "the tree."
I showed my colors in the sweet, sad season of Fall, played possum
in Winter, burst forth in Spring, and gave shade in Summer.
As time passed, the school was no longer
needed; but it was so sturdy and elegant, they made it a courthouse.
Some of my tree and bush friends were cut down, but I was left because
I was tall and "part of the town." The playground was made into a
village square with gas lamps, and stone walkways. Barbershop quartets
Now my job is to shade the old?timers
on the wood and iron benches. They tell the stories I know, but which
have become such "whoppers," I have to listen closely to recognize
them. We grow old together. The doctors visit them; the tree surgeon
me. He recently muttered, "It won't be long now," but what does he
know? He's young and just out of school. Anyhow, I have some good
lumber left. Some of me may end up in another school or courthouse
here. I'd like that . . . for as much as the people loved me . . .
I loved them more than they'll ever
lives in Midway City, California (USA)
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