While I walked home on my daily morning exercise, I approached a little boy of about 9 or 10 years old dragging a large tree limb. The limb was a few inches thick and more than twice the boy’s height. Last night a storm had raged for hours and its remnants were scattered all over the city. I had passed many a street littered with branches and limbs that had been ripped from the mighty trees that lined our city sidewalks.
I jogged faster so that I could meet up with him, and as I strode beside him, I asked if he was dragging the limb (or branch) home to be used as firewood. He said, nope.
We walked side by side for a few more steps, and then I asked him if he was going to use the limb in his home’s garden – as an architectural piece. He looked at me this time. Huh? I clarified my question: You know, as something pretty in the garden because I figure that you think this limb is pretty interesting?
He ignored my question. (I’m a gardener. That’s how I look at fallen branches.)
Finally he replied, I think it’s a nice branch.
Yes, I agreed, it is.
By this time, he is struggling with this huge limb so I offer to lift it at the other end.
No thanks, he says.
I watch his face: a lot of sweat, but determination. Are you sure you wouldn’t want me to lift the end? I am persistent.
Same reply: Nope.
So I say goodbye and cross the street to go home. I sneak glances at him while I continue my walk; he is still struggling, stopping, swapping hands. He alters his position – he moves to the centre of the limb and tries heaving it to his shoulder. Then he drops the whole thing and sits down and rests for a few seconds. I yell out to him, Are you sure you wouldn’t like me to help you?
Nope, but thanks.
Eventually I leave him behind and make my way home and relate my story to my husband. A retired teacher, my husband reminds me that the young boy probably was taught not to talk to strangers. My husband jokes that I was stalking him.
Me, a risk? I am wearing my black yoga pants and a zip-up jacket, and an old green baseball cap that reads Newfoundland. And brand new turquoise running shoes that scream older lady walking. I am not a risk. But the newspapers and CNN tell us 24/7 that risk comes in all shapes and sizes.
Besides, my husband continues, the kid probably liked the branch and he’s picked it up as a token. That’s what kids do. And he sure doesn’t want any help in carrying it home. That negates the whole adventure.
An adventure? I am reminded of Hoff’s The Tao of Pooh…this is something Winnie and his friends would do. I can hear Pooh Bear telling his friends that the limb (he’d call it a stick, I think) is a nice stick so let’s take it home.
I remember an old song…
- The leaf was on the twig,
- And the twig was on a bough,
- And the bough was on the branch,
- And the branch was on the limb,
- And the limb was on the tree,
- And the green grass grew all around…
Or something like that.
To that young boy, the branch (or limb) is a gift. I get that.