falling leaves…life?

In 2004 I discovered an author who has become a favorite…of mine…and my daughter’s. 

Cover of

Cover of The Fall of Freddie the Leaf

While decorating my daughter’s room for Christmas, I came across the Fall of Freddie the Leaf – A Story of Life for All Ages written by Leo Buscaglia. The story is appropriate for this time of year…winter, but its message seems only too fitting in view of what transpired in Newtown a week ago.

For young and old alike…

Spring had passed. So had summer.

Freddie, the leaf, had grown large. His mid-section was wide and strong, and his five extensions were firm and pointed.

He had first appeared in Spring as a small sprout on a rather large branch near the top of a tall tree.

Freddie was surrounded by hundreds of other leaves just like himself, or so it seemed. Soon he discovered that no two leaves were alike, even though they were on the same tree. Alfred was the leaf next to him. Ben was the leaf on his right side, and Clare was the lovely leaf overhead. They had all grown up together. They had learned to dance in the spring breezes, bask lazily in the Summer sun and wash off in the cooling rains.

But it was Daniel who was Freddie’s best friend. He was the largest leaf on the limb and seemed to have been there before anyone else. It appeared to Freddie that Daniel was also the wisest among them. It was Daniel who told them that they were part of a tree. It was Daniel who explained that they were growing in a public park. It was Daniel who told them that the tree had strong roots which were hidden in the ground below. He explained about the birds who came to sit on their branch and sing morning songs. He explained about the sun, the moon, the stars and the seasons.

Freddie loved being a leaf. He loved his branch, his light leafy friends, his place high in the sky, the wind that jostled him about, the sun rays that warmed him, the moon tht covered him with soft, white shadows.

Summer had been especially nice. The long hot days felt good and the warm nights were peaceful and dreamy.

There were many people in the park that Summer. They often came and sat under Freddie’s tree. Daniel told him that giving shade was part of his purpose.

“What’s a purpose?” Freddie asked.

“A reason for being,” Daniel had answered. “To make things more pleasant for others is a reason for being. To make shade for old people who come to escape the heat of their homes is a reason for being. To provide a cool place for children to come and play. To fan with our leaves the picnickers who come to eat on checkered tablecloths. These are all reasons for being.”

Freddie especially liked the old people. They sat so quietly on the cool grass and hardly ever moved. They talked in whispers of times past.

The children were fun, too, even though they sometimes tore holes in the bark of the tree or carved their names into it. Still, it was fun to watch them move so fast and to laugh so much.

But Freddie’s Summer soon passed.

It vanished on an October night. He had never felt it so cold. All the leaves shivered with the cold. They were coated with a thin layer of white which quickly melted and left them dew drenched and sparkling in the morning sun.

Again, it was Daniel who explained that they had experienced their first frost, the sign that it was Fall and that winter would come soon.

Almost at once, the whole tree, in fact, the whole park was transformed into a blaze of color. There was hardly a green leaf left. Alfred had turned a deep yellow. Ben had become a bright orange. Clare had become a blazing red, Daniel a deep purple and Freddie was red and gold and blue. How beautiful they all looked. Freddie and his friends had made their tree a rainbow.

“Why did we turn different colors,” Freddie asked, “when we are on the same tree?”

“Each of us is different. We have had different experiences. We have faced the sun differently. We have cast shade differently. Why should we not have different colors?” Daniel said matter-of-factly. Daniel told Freddie that this wonderful season was called Fall.

One day a very strange thing happened. The same breezes that, in the past, had made them dance began to push and pull at their stems, almost as if they were angry. This caused some of the leaves to be torn from their branches and swept up in the wind, tossed about and dropped softly to the ground.

All the leaves became frightened.

“What’s happening?” they asked each other in whispers.

“It’s what happens in Fall,” Daniel told them. “It’s the time for leaves to change their home. Some people call it to die.

“Will we all die?” Freddie asked.

“Yes,” Daniel answered. “Every thing dies. No matter how big or small, how weak or strong. We first do our job. We experience the sun and the moon, the wind and the rain. We learn to dance and to laugh. Then we die.”

“I won’t die!” said Freddie with determination. “Will you, Daniel?”

“Yes,” answered Daniel, “when it’s my time.”

“When is that?” asked Freddie.

“No one knows for sure,” Daniel responded.

Freddie noticed that the other leaves continued to fall. He thought, “It must be their time.” He saw that some of the leaves lashed back at the wind before they fell, others simply let go and dropped quietly.

Soon the tree was almost bare.

“I’m afraid to die,” Freddie told Daniel. “I don’t know what’s down there.”

“We all fear what we don’t know, Freddie. It’s natural,” Daniel reassured him. “Yet, you were not afraid when Spring became Summer. You were not afraid when Summer became Fall. They were natural changes. Why should you be afraid of the season of death?”

“Does the tree die, too?” Freddie asked.

“Someday. But there is something stronger than the tree. It is Life. That lasts forever and we are all a part of Life.”

“Where will we go when we die?”

“No one knows for sure. That’s the great mystery!”

“Will we return in the Spring?”

“We may not, but Life will.”

“Then what has been the reason for all of this?” Freddie continued to question. “Why were we here at all if we only have to fall and die?”

Daniel answered in his matter-of-fact way, “It’s been about the sun and the moon. It’s been about happy times together. It’s been about the shade and the old people and the children. It’s been about colors in Fall. It’s been about seasons. Isn’t that enough?”

That afternoon, in the golden light of dusk, Daniel let go. He fell effortlessly. He seemed to smile peacefully as he fell. “Goodbye for now, Freddie,” he said.

Then, Freddie was alone, the only leaf left on his branch.

The first snow fell the following morning. It was soft, white, and gentle; but it was bitter cold. There was hardly any sun that day, and the day was very short. Freddie found himself losing his color, becoming brittle. It was constantly cold and the snow weighed heavily upon him.

At dawn the wind came that took Freddie from his branch. It didn’t hurt at all. He felt himself float quietly, gently and softly downward.

As he fell, he saw the whole tree for the first time. How strong and firm it was! He was sure that it would live for a long time and he knew that he had been a part of its life and it made him proud.

Freddie landed on a clump of snow. It somehow felt soft and even warm. In this new position he was more comfortable than he had ever been. He closed his eyes and fell asleep. He did not know that Spring would follow Winter and that the snow would melt into water. He did not know that what appeared to be his useless dried self would join with the water and serve to make the tree stronger. Most of all, he did not know that there, asleep in the tree and the ground, were already plans for new leaves in the Spring.

 

The Beginning.

Postscript:

Leo Buscaglia approached life with joy and enthusiasm. He pursued a path of perpetual learning that took him to places of wonder, excitement, and enlightenment. His sense of urgency to live life now and explore all that is possible was contagious to all who knew him. His life was dedicated to the single concept of “Love” and all the beautiful and positive elements that it encompasses. 

He died of heart failure on June 29th, 1998, at his home in Lake Tahoe, Nevada at the age of 74. A note was found on his typewriter the next day. It read, “Every moment spent in unhappiness is a moment of happiness lost.”

 …make merry…while you may…leave tomorrow…to…

…tomorrow!

Autumn Leaves on the North Carolina back roads

Autumn Leaves on the North Carolina back roads (Photo credit: Visualist Images)

Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Autumn leaves in Gekū

Autumn leaves in Gekū (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

………hugmamma.

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weekly photo challenge: surprise

This particular photo never ceases to amaze me. And although I’ve used it before in various and sundry other posts, I am compelled to bring it to the forefront yet again…in response to this week’s Word Press photo challenge…surprise!!!

IMG_0796That’s Sitka, named after a charming Alaskan village. I was there once, as a voyager on a Holland America Alaskan cruise. 

A year later, 9/11 happened. The following day I adopted Sitka from the local Humane Society, along with his brother Juneau, also a namesake for a town in Alaska.

These two are daily reminders of both…the best and worst experiences I’ve known…cruising the glacial fjords of Alaska with 25 family members…and suffering through one of the saddest days for our country and, indeed, the world at large.

…life is…full of surprises…both good and…not so good…

………hugmamma.

remembering…and…hoping

Hovering above…

little hearts.

Telling us…

do not mourn.

Find peace…

in their

heavenly ascent.

No bitterness,

only hope…

we’ll be better

than…before.

If at first we don’t succeed…try…try…again.

…out of the mouths…of babes…

………hugmamma.IMG_1014

i was there…newtown

I’ve been away from my laptop and Word Press for some time now. There’ve been issues to deal with, some health, some holiday preparedness.

Sitting for hours at a time is not heart-healthy. Nor is it wise for me to overwork my arthritic right thumb…now in a customized brace which I wear daily.

Readership is down considerably. But I’ve learned to accept the ebb and flow of visitors to hugmamma’s mind, body, and soul. The wisdom of age is understanding that life is comprised of many, wonderful moments…and learning to love them…as they occur.

Rigidly living life…is not really living at all.

These last few days, however, life has slowed down for all of us, almost coming to a total halt.

The killing of 6 and 7-year-olds…an incomprehensible tragedy. I am reminded of that other Connecticut tragedy…the doctor whose wife and 2 daughters were slaughtered, after the girls were savagely raped.

I knew I’d want to write about the devastation in Newtown, but decided to take some time to collect my thoughts. Especially since the area was home to my husband, daughter and me for 13 years before we moved west.

Everything the media says about the idyllic life in the small community of Newtown is true. It’s also true of nearby Easton, Weston, and Redding…our home town for 11 years.

Picture postcards do not do justice to the pastoral settings of these towns. One can only glimpse small slices as an outsider.

Living there is…

…awaking to explosions of fall colors in our own backyard…

…traversing 2-lane country roads on the way to everywhere…

…walking our daughter to the nearby Boys and Girls Club for birthday parties…

…celebrating our faith in a tiny, 100-year-old church…

…marching alongside our daughter and the other Brownies in the town’s Memorial Day Parade…

…selling handmade crafts in the annual fair held on the Town Green

trick-or-treating with friends throughout a nearby cul-de-sac, led by a horse who loved a carrot or two.

I made regular trips to Newtown, 10 or 15 minutes from my home. I patronized its antique shops, reveling in my discoveries. Hollandia Nursery was my favorite destination, where I bought most of the plants that graced the gardens surrounding our 110-year-old, Victorian farmhouse. If you visit http://www.ctgrown.com/html/photos.cfm  you’ll get a feel for the wonder that is the New England countryside.

Until she was 11-years-old, our daughter called Redding and the surrounding communities…home. My husband commuted the 2 hours to his job in Queens, New York, just so our child could grow up in the serenity of a small town. He afforded her the same experience we knew as children growing up in Maui and Oahu in the 1950s.

A dear friend who still lives in Redding, and has been a long-time administrator for a couple of schools, commiserated with me that our daughters would find the world beyond their small-town very different. However I think we’d both agree that our girls learned good-old-fashioned values, the kind espoused in Norman Rockwell paintings.

My daughter, a career ballerina, and my friend’s daughter, a veterinarian, grew up fulfilling dreams held long ago… in a small town in Connecticut. Something no longer possible for…

…james…olivia…ana…grace…emilie…jesse…noah…avielle…caroline…catherine…charlotte…chase…daniel…dylan…jessica…josephine…jack…madeleine.

There but for the grace of God.

Let us love our children with our entire beings, so that they grow up to be healthy adults able to cope with life’s ups and downs.

Death awaits all of us. The date and time are unknown. But how we live all the minutes until then…are totally ours to determine.

…let’s choose to live them…with the joy and simplicity of those wise beyond their years…our children…

Chess Club at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, CT...

Chess Club at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, CT, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

………hugmamma.

 

powerball!!!

The Lotto Powerball logo

The Lotto Powerball logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’re like me, and I do pride myself upon being normal…although at times I’ve been known to behave somewhat “aby-normal”…then you were off in your own fantasy land dreaming about the $500 million dollar jackpot that was up for grabs recently. 

Not usually the gambling type, hubby and I get involved only when the $$$ signs are too many to ignore. So we were in it to win it with a wager of $10 bucks.

As the jackpot continued to climb, experts bemoaned the fact that the odds of winning were growing slimmer and slimmer. Something like one in 700 million, I think. So, of course, daydreaming was all I could do.

After all…it was free…no matter how grand the imaginings.

Paying off bills, a trust fund for our daughter and enlarging our retirement, nest egg…those were at the top of the family “to do” list. Surely not an uncommon trio of wishes. The remainder, however, were unique to my own corner of the world…at least in their specifics.

Tent City

Tent City (Photo credit: kuow949)

The “tent city” that shelters the homeless in our east side community must relocate every so many months, so as not to overstay their welcome among the residents in the area. There’s a fine line between accommodating the poor and guaranteeing the rights and privileges of nearby property owners. Those who organize the hospitality are good Samaritans, who are trying to remain good neighbors.  After all, they’d like to ensure that their “tent city” be invited back, albeit temporarily.

Fantasy number one with my power ball winnings?

Build a permanent structure to house, feed, and aid the homeless. Organize clinics wherein volunteer doctors and nurses could tend to the physical needs of the residents, and job clinics where volunteer, business reps could assist in preparing residents to become serious, wage earners again.

Fantasy number two?

Hurricane destruction, Union Beach, NJ

Hurricane destruction, Union Beach, NJ (Photo credit: spleeness)

Provide financial assistance to a community devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Perhaps one resembling my own, small town. Whether it be in providing a steady feed of  material goods to a  shelter where folks are housed temporarily, or establishing a home schooling situation where the children could continue their education, or buying good, used cars for folks to get around.

And my third wish…as in the oft-told granting of three wishes by a fairy god-mother?

Just that we all be thankful…for the small moments that make our lives good…without power ball wins.

 Awaking each day with minds and limbs intact…and working.

Having those we love and who love us…healthy and in our lives each day.

Living in a democracy…unlike any other in the world.

Finding peace on earth…even as we endure the ravages wrought by Mother Nature…and the havoc wrought by mankind…upon itself.

English: Abraham Lincoln and his son Tad looki...

English: Abraham Lincoln and his son Tad looking at an album of photographs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bearing witness to special people among us who take up the mantle of leadership…such as Lincoln and Obama…at great cost to their own…health, welfare, and peace of mind.

It is my contention that all people are good.

No one among us sets out to be bad on the day we are born. Familial and environmental circumstances affect our progress in becoming upstanding, world citizens.

I remind myself…often…that goodness is our origin and that we, in our own way, are trying to get along, even as we carve out our own niches in a society that is ever-expanding.

We are all power ball winners, even as we celebrate the good fortune of the Dearborn family who took home half the jackpot.

They look like us in their normal, outward appearance, and in the values they seem to hold dear, such as adopting a little, Chinese girl as their daughter and sister.

In fact…upon closer inspection…

…they are…us!

………hugmamma.