Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Simple Gifts

                                                                      Simple Gifts

      It's been almost a year since my last children's workshop.  I have missed them.  Fall was always my favorite time with the Pioneer Workshops at the log cabin.  We'd have a cabin dinner...either pot luck or veggie soup and cornbread on the old wood stove.  We'd do "chores" and even have a one room school lesson, and then we would eat our lunch outside on straw bales and makeshift board tables.

                                                         Previous Pioneer Workshops

       I'd usually have my Tree Workshop in the fall, too. Everyone soon learned that one of my favorite trees here at TCP was the Beech.  Beech tree leaves will stay on the trees through the winter. As the frosts and freezes come, their green leaves change to brown paper bag looking leaves. On windy winter days, they will dance and play their crackling songs.  I always imagined that the Quaking Aspens have nothing on the Georgia Beech trees! Only the new spring growth will push off the brown bag leaves to make way for the new ones.  The old leaves will then  drop to the ground and help make new soil for all the living things in the woods.
                                                                      Beech Tree in Winter
  Yesterday, I received a phone call from one of the workshop family Moms.  She asked if they could come by for a short visit.  She knew that I no longer had my workshops, but she simply asked if they could come for a short visit.  I gladly agreed.  Frankly, I was not sure which family it was...they had attended several of the workshops, but they had not been one of the regular groups. I recognized them as their car drove up to the Gathering Room.  The little boy, about 7 or 8, excitedly got out of the car and gave me a big hug.  He then said, Ms. Sarah, my Nanna died!!"  His Mom nodded, "Yes, last week, and it's been hard to explain it all to him."

     I felt honored that they thought of TCP as a place to visit, a place to heal.  I asked if they wanted to take a walk, and they both agreed, but not before they got their sacks to collect things along the trails.  I also noticed that he went by the marker jar, but I assumed that he might be going to journal some, too. As we walked, they remarked about the changes.  The bright blue sky and the autumn fireworks...it was a perfect day for a walk. As we walked the path above the cabin, he stopped and took out his marker.  "Ms. Sarah," he said, "I want to write Nanna's name on one of the Beech leaves."  His Mom smiled and said that it was all he had talked about since his Grandmother's death.  He wanted to put her name on a Beech leaf so it would dance in the wind and stay until spring, and then it would help other things to live.  I felt a huge lump in my throat, and I know my teared up eyes were obvious!  He had remembered.  Every fall, we would write our names with black permanent markers on the green Beech leaves.  We'd watch them all winter as we walked the trails, and then we'd see them turn brown.  The names would remain on the faded brown leaves.  I was always amazed that each child  remembered where their leaf was. Sometimes they would take their brown leaves back to press them in a book, but most wanted them to fall naturally and help the forest to grow.

"What a wonderful gift for Nanna!" I told him.

 "I told Nanna about writing my name on the leaves," he said.  "She wanted to write her name on one, too...and now there's her name!"
     We continued our walk on the trails.  We stopped off at the labyrinth cove and sat in the sunshine while he threw rocks and sticks and looked for bugs and dragonflies. I did not take my camera on our walk, but I returned to take a picture of Nanna's legacy.  Such a simple gesture, a simple gift, but it will forever touch me...and Nanna.


Susan Elizabeth Hale said...

A moving story Sarah, a gift to us all. I'm so happy to know that that work that you have done at the Cabin Path is in the hearts of all the children that you touched. He came back as a reminder. Nanna's Leaf is a testament to all that you and the Cabin Path have given and will continue to give as the trees carry their song out to the world and into the hearts of us all.

Merri Williams said...

What a beautiful impact you had on the life of this child! And he will remember this and carry it all through his life. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Joyce M said...

Sarah, this touched my heart and made me cry also. What a wonderful story. This child will never ever forget that and what a wonderful thing to do for "Nanna". Thank you for sharing again as I had not read this. I adore your "The Cabin Path" and faithfully watch for it daily on FB. Love, Joyce