LC Van Savage
The Woods, the River, and the Leaf
As I walked one recent sunny, hot day, I stopped to watch a pretty little girl. She was standing by a winding blue river near some woods, laughing and wearing a huge green leaf on her head. Her hair was long and curly, coppery in the yellow sunlight. I remembered, watching her, how I used to do that too when I was very young with the same long, curly hair.
That plate-sized leaf was a perfect shade hat for her that day and she laughed again when the wind tried to pull it from her head. I smiled and remembered when that had happened to me too as a child, and how funny it had been. Her leaf that day and mine so long ago were the same, growing near woods, by a river, smelling sweet and good. And, if they were swished around in that cool water and put dripping on the head, they made a marvelous, cooling thrill, like none other. I was watching my own mirrored history on that sunny afternoon and I too wanted to put a big, cold, wet leaf on my head as I had six decades before, but I stayed back instead, and watched.
I spent a lot of time in the woods when I was very young, being blessed with miles of them where my family lived. Iíll bet all those old tree-friends I had as a kid have been destroyed now to make room for homes and roads. People need homes and roads after all. I know the trees are gone now, but not in my heart or my memories. Were they still standing, I know I could even now walk amongst them for days and not once get lost.
When youíre very young and go wandering off into the safe, cool, dark woods, you think you can really live there. Forever. You donít think about the fact that you have the option of going home to get warm, to get food, not really needing those things when youíre safe within beautiful, ancient woodlands. Summer is eternal. Winter will never come and you donít notice at all that bugs are swarming all around you.
ďIíll eat wild onions,Ē Iíd think. ďAnd skunk cabbage, and mushrooms. Iíll eat nuts, the insides of acorns, those berries over there, tiny succulent buds. Iíll pull the blossoms off Honey Suckle vines and will suck the nectar from their ends. Iíll eat tender roots of things, and will steal the honey from beeís nests and Iíll find small birdís eggs to eat, but Iíll only take one at a time. Iíll eat sweet clover too from the meadows hidden within my woods, and dozens and dozens of tiny, impossibly sweet wild strawberries on their vines webbing the floor of my forest.
ďIíll drink from the creek. Iíll swim there too and will scrub my teeth with twigs and fragrant leaves. I wonít ever need clothing, my sneakers will never wear out and at night Iíll lie beneath my protecting trees where the ground is soft and sweet and Iíll cover myself with thin, woven branches and soft leaves. And if it rains, Iíll stay dry beneath a small lean-to of the same woven branches while I hold fragile orange newts in my hands. All the animals and birds will love, watch over and care for me. Theyíll understand my words to them, I will understand theirs to me, and I wonít be afraid of any of them, nor they of me. And Iíll wear big green leaves on my head to keep me cool.Ē
I remembered all this because I saw that pretty little girl with the long curly hair and a great big green leaf on her head on the edge of the forest, because I too once wore great, big green leaves on my head on hot summer days by a river, near the woods.
As an author with several books published, LC Van Savage still finds time for air time and an active community service life.
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