I’m that person you see taking a close-up picture of a lonely leaf on the sidewalk. You may think to yourself, “It’s just a leaf, what‘s the big deal?” All the while I’m admiring the color, the shape, the loneliness. Acknowledging that perhaps it wasn’t just a coincidence that this particular leaf, with all of its exquisite uniqueness landed here for me to stumble upon.
Some of you may sit by the lake fishing and not really even noticing the water. While I take a in a deep breath and relish in sheer beauty. Enjoying the relaxing qualities of each ripple and splash, as well as the subtle breeze that blows the trees on the opposite shore, letting it erase the many thoughts racing through my mind from a hectic day.
How about the little bird flitting through a flower bed? Is he just some pest that you shoo away, or do you admire the exquisite shape and feather design of this little explorer? Imagine the excitement he must feel for the perfect miniature twig he just found for his home.
Some of my fondest memories as a child are of visiting my grandmother’s house and not being able to restrain my urgency to go delve into the great outdoors. First stop, the garden. She always planted “tommy-toe” tomatoes each year because they were my favorite. Not my favorite because of how they tasted, even though they were yummy, but amusingly because of how they looked. Bright red clusters of perfect little balls hanging sporadically against a luscious green bush. Their smooth flawless curves a considerable contrast to the offensive prickliness of the stalk and leaves.
Second stop would always be the front flower beds, which were filled with plenty of magical blossoms for a nature child. Snapdragons of course, with their lopsided faces all twisted and shaped by just the gentle squeeze of your fingers. Talking for hours with their imaginary friends. ‘Money tree’ plants with their sparkling silvery coins rustling in the breeze, free for the taking. Touch-me-not seed pods that exploded with a pop at the slightest touch of your hand.
Mystical dragons, bags of silver coins, exploding seed bombs, and even the occasional gallant snail that came slithering over from a neighboring castle. Oh my, how those hours just drifted away, full of smiles and giggles.
The last stop on my outside adventures at my grandmother’s was curled up on the end of porch, marveling over her tiger lilies. As deep and brilliant orange as the impressive cats themselves, and speckled with tiny black dots all over. Their proud stamens towering up over the sloped curves of their petals, twisting downward like giant slides. A perfect escape for the tired and weary ladybug, traveling from slope to mountainous slope, on one of her grand hiking adventures.
Years later, while living in and out of different foster homes, I began to find great solace and symbolism in big beautiful trees. Walking quietly down long winding gravel roads lined with trees, hearing nothing but the sounds of chirping birds, the occasional squirrel, and the crinkle of our shoes scuffling through the loose pebbles. Then listening as my foster mom tells a story of camping amongst those trees with her friends, and it was almost as if I could hear the crackle of the fire as I envisioned myself there.
Big beautiful trees lined the edges of the yard like a fence at my first foster home. They were older than anyone knew, yet more beautiful because of it. The shading was excellent, and the atmosphere in the yard was just perfect. I could sit there for hours upon hours and never tire.
My favorite spot of all was to be stretched out in the hammock in the front yard. It was pulled tight between two large towering trees. The majestic regal curves of their uplifting arms and outstretched fingers came together to create the most magnificent canopy. Lying there and looking up into the rustling leaves all nestled together I felt as if the trees where overseeing and protecting me with their shelter. Protecting me from the hurt and pain of the outside world that tore at my heart and soul as they enveloped me in their serene world. Allowing me to let the silence drown out my discouraging past as I dreamt of a bright new future.