Posted on April 11, 2014 by billyraychitwood
A Little Boy Searching
“Why does a leaf fall off the tree, Daddy?” asked the sandy-haired kid trailing his father as he raked leaves from the ground.
“It’s a leaf’s time to die and fall from the trees, Andy. It’s the season,” the young father responded as he continued to rake the brown crisp fallings.
“But, why, Daddy, do the leaves have to die?” the freckled boy persisted.
The father stopped and leaned against the big oak tree, smiled down at his son and playfully rubbed his fingers through the boy’s hair. “When the weather gets cold these oaks and maples don’t get the energy from the sun they need and the sap in the trees can’t move to nourish the branches…the leaves wither, become brittle, and, with just slight or heavy breezes, they fall to the ground.”
“But some of the trees are green, Daddy?”
“Well, those trees are called evergreen trees. They’re hearty and can withstand the cold weather because of their root design and structure. You will learn about these things in school.” The father again bent and resumed his raking.
“Why don’t we lose our hair, finger nails, toe nails, and stuff like these trees at this time of the year?” the little boy picked up some fallen leaves and crunched them in his tiny hands.
“We’re people, son, not plants and trees. We can survive in the cold months because we have houses that are heated, that give us comfort and warmth. We wear heavy coats, gloves, hats, earmuffs to keep us warm when we’re outside in the cold…you will learn about these things in school.”
“What would happen to the leaves if you just left them on the ground, Daddy?” the boy’s nose was running and he wiped it with his mittens.
The father paused, took a hankie from his back pocket and wiped his son’s nose. “Well, we would have a messy yard and the leaves would blow all over the place, onto the porch, into the street. Most people want neatness around their properties. If we just left the leaves on the ground they would eventually become mulch for the ground, at least those that didn’t blow away… Now, before you ask, mulch is like fertilizer (like, decaying leaves) – it would be good for enriching and insulating the ground, making it healthy.”
“So, you’re just raking the leaves up to have a neat yard, Daddy?” the boy walks in front of his father, kicking at the fallen leaves.
“Yeah, guess that’s about it, plus I enjoy being out here with you. I like doing things around the house. The house and the grounds belong to us, son, and it gives me pride (makes me feel good) to keep our place neat and in good repair. Do you understand?”
“Sure! It’s like me getting a new tricycle. I can make it shiny and feel good that’s it mine.”
“Yeah, that’s about it.”
The leaves were raked into several piles on the ground, and the father and boy put the leaves in gunny sacks for the trash bin.
“Let’s go have a snack, Andy. I believe we worked up an appetite.”
As they walked onto the porch the boy asked one more question: “Do you get tired of me asking so many questions, Daddy?”
The man smiled down again at his son, reached and pulled him into a warm embrace. “Answers don’t come without questions, son. That’s the way we learn. I’m just glad you’re not yet in high school and college…then, I might have some trouble coming up with the answers. I love you, Andy-buddy…you just keep asking your questions.
Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood
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