TITLE: Bear Creek Narratives: Tree Lessons
By Glenn A. Hascall
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Glenn A. Hascall
I love the fact that there are so many trees in Bear Creek. Walking to work in the fall always brings out a renewed love affair with life. The accumulation of the entire growth of summer foliage turning brilliant shades of yellow, red, brown and orange. Certainly this means the death of the affected foliage, but it also signals game nights in the Chrisman home and homemade hot chocolate from my mom’s special family recipe.
Abby bakes treats leaving me a bit weak in the sweet tooth. The Bear Creak Grizzlies seem to be in fine fighting form on the gridiron. Being a Friday, we bundle up and sit in the bleachers at the high school field and cheer on the home team.
We sing the school fight song all the way home and toast the success of our favorite team with a mug of steaming apple cider. Coats are piled in the corner as we set up a couple of board games and take turns sinking ships and building hotels.
Fall always seems to signal that something is passing away and something new is on the way. I am at once captured by the sounds of laughter from my children. Children that are no longer infants or toddler, but growing and vibrant and not nearly as young as I want them to be. Each word that is said and each bit of laughter brings a flood of memories so strong I am overwhelmed. The passing of another year means that my children are one year closer to leaving the nest.
“Come on Dad! It’s your turn,” John said as he handed me the dice.
The spell was broken and I attempted to concentrate on conquering the real estate market while demanding payment from my tenants.
As I lay in bed that night, Abby mentioned that Hiram Mackie, our butter and egg man, would be bringing extra of each because of an increase in fall baking.
I mumbled something and fell asleep. I began dreaming of the day I would walk Haddie and Mary Beth down the aisle. In each case there were men waiting for my daughter. I could never see their face but I resented the fact that someone would willfully take my daughters from me. How could I ever give my daughters in marriage? They could stay with Abby and me until we died.
Then I dreamed of holding my first grandchild and I saw Haddie’s eyes in this child yet to be born. These dreams were torture for a dad who wanted nothing less than to keep his children close and safe - yet knew that everyday he was letting them go a little bit further from the nest and there would come a time when they would only be content to fly on their own. Then what use could they find for their Daddy?
I awoke with a start to hear the wind shaking the tree just outside our bedroom window, attempting to force the tree to let go of what it could never really hold onto. The tree seemed to echo my heart as it held desperately to all the leaves that it possibly could. Maybe I was grasping at straws but I found great comfort in that. I silently cheered the tree on in hopes that it could hold onto the leaves forever.
In the morning I watched as a few remaining leaves were tugged from the tree by gentle winds. They floated away from the very thing that had given them life and had cared for and protected them for so long, the branches seemed to droop at the futility of holding on. Yet there was hope falling with the leaves as unseen seeds bounced to the hard earth below - perhaps they would be shade for a future generation.
“What are you looking at, Dad?” Haddie asked as she came into the kitchen.
“Good morning, sweetheart,” I replied distractedly. “I was just watching the leaves.”
“Do you know what today is?” she asked me.
“Saturday,” I said absently.
“Yes and there’s a new movie at the Imperial. Would you please take me, Daddy?” my eldest begged.
“You want me to take you?” I asked in surprise.
“Well, you took Mary Beth on a date, didn’t you?”
“It’s my turn,” Haddie grinned, and in so doing, It seemed as if she was suddenly five again. Of course I said yes.
Perhaps the seasons were changing but for now I am holding onto some special leaves in my family tree and I am suddenly aware that, as odd as it sounds, I will have to loosen my grip for there to be any chance that they will continue to love this tree.
“You are buying the popcorn?” Haddie asked.
“Only if it’s buttered,” I replied knowing it was her favorite.
“Well, O.K.,” she said in mock disappointment, “but I get to pick the seat.”
As she walked away humming a show tune I couldn’t help but think once more, “I sure do love fall.”
Come and visit us sometime at Bear Creek, just down the road from the last place you’d expect, where the best news is found at Ralph’s Barber Shop and where the arrival of the future seems to have been postponed indefinitely.
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