Monday, 24 June 2013

Children's short story of mine.


An enormous oak tree lives in my uncle's front yard. In spring and summer I climb its branches. I have done so for many years. When I first began, my uncle placed a small stepladder against the tree’s trunk and helped me climb into the tree’s fork. There I stood, hugging the trunk, smelling the oak’s bark and feeling higher than a house.

As I grew older, and able to climb the tree without aid, I discovered that the oak tree was a wonderful place to sit and read. My uncle's hammock is tied between the tree and the fence. He sometimes sleeps in the hammock while I play in or beneath the tree. My uncle insists he is not asleep but only resting his eyes. My mum and I grin when he says this. We have heard his snores.

It was autumn when I first visited my uncle at his new house in the country. My family and I had been overseas for a year. We had been living in New Zealand. My uncle was my mum’s brother. I had missed my uncle.

“Will uncle Danny remember me?” I asked my mum as I sat in the car. We were driving to my uncle’s house. It was a long drive.
“He will remember you.”

My mother and I arrived after lunch. My uncle was sitting at the porch waiting for us. He loves sitting on porches. His black, furry dog, Harry, was lying at his feet, panting. Mum stopped the car and I looked out the window and saw uncle Danny smiling. He stood up and waved.  Then auntie Jenny came out to join him on the porch. They both waved. My uncle walked down the steps and to the car. He opened the car door and helped me out. We chatted.

“Hello Adrian. Long time no see,” said uncle Danny.
“Hello Uncle Danny.” I felt shy. It had been a long time.
“Welcome to my new home,” my uncle said as his hand lightly touched my head. I remembered that. Uncle Danny often touched my head. I wondered if he noticed how tall I had grown.

“Hello Adrian,” called auntie Jenny from the porch. “I hope you like scones,” she added.

I nodded. I loved scones.

“Are you glad to be back home after your time in that faraway country?” Uncle Danny asked.
“Yes,” I said.
“I am glad, too.”

We looked at each other and then uncle Danny smiled. I smiled back. Mum was also smiling. Then I looked around at the front yard. It was full of flowers and bushes. It was a big garden.

“It is a big garden, isn’t it? Perfect for hide and seek,” said uncle Danny.
“It is big,” I said.
“Do you like it?”

I nodded to show him that I did.
“I think it’s beautiful,” said my mum. “I will go chat with auntie Jenny. You okay Adrian?”

I looked at mum and then at uncle Danny. He smiled at me. I liked his smile. I nodded to tell mum I was okay if she went inside with auntie Jenny.

“Come and see my oak tree,” said uncle Danny

Uncle Danny held my hand and together we walked over to the oak tree. We stopped beneath its branches. It was enormous.

“I always wanted an oak tree,” uncle Danny said and he stood beside me and we stared up into its green leaves.

I was a bit scared looking up at its swaying branches and knobbly old trunk. My uncle lifted me up and held me close.

“It is a big tree, isn't it Adrian?”
“Very big.”
“Yes”, said my uncle, laughing, “very big indeed…Adrian,” asked my uncle, “do you know that a lion is the king of the animals?”

I shook my head to tell him I did know that.

‘Well if the lion is the king of the animals, then an oak is the king of the trees. That is why they are so big. The biggest, grandest trees ever. Fairy folk live in oaks trees, did you know that?”
“Do they?”
“They do. Has mum read The Magic Faraway Tree to you, yet?”
“We read it all the time,” I told him. “It is my favourite.”
“It is my favourite too. Did you know your mother used to read those stories to me when I was a child?”
“Did she?”
‘Yep. Topsy-turvy Land, Upside-down Land. Your mother read them all to me. I think the Faraway Tree is an oak tree. Do you agree?”

I looked again at the oak tree. I looked at the way its branches spread across his garden. I looked at the huge trunk that could easily be a house. I thought my uncle was right. I nodded to show him I agreed.

 Uncle Danny pointed at the ground beneath the tree.   “Look at all the leaves that have fallen from it,” he said.

I looked at the ground. Thousands of leaves lay sprawled across the grass. Bright red and orange leaves that lay upon the ground like fallen stars.

“In autumn the leaves fall from the oak tree just as they do from a lot of other trees.”
“Why do they fall, uncle Danny?” I asked.
“The leaves grow tired of hanging onto the branches all summer.  Can you remember holding onto something for so long your hands got tired?”

I thought about the monkey bars I liked to climb. Dad sometimes let me hang free before catching me. I thought about hanging and I remembered how tired my fingers got when I was holding on to the bar.

“My fingers get tired when I hang on to the monkey bars.”
Uncle Danny nodded and smiled. “Exactly,” he said. “When autumn comes the leaves feel their fingers slip from the branches and then the leaves drift free in the breeze until they fall to the ground.”

My Uncle gently placed me down upon the ground. He smiled down at me, his eyes sparkling. 

“Would you like to play with the leaves Adrian?”
“How?” I asked
“We'll figure something out.”

We walked around the back. Harry bounded ahead. I walked beside my Uncle, holding his hand. Harry ran up to us with a tennis ball held in his mouth. He dropped it at our feet.

“Get on with you, Harry,” said my uncle.
Harry barked and wagged his tail. My uncle laughed and kicked the ball Harry had dropped. Harry chased after the ball.

We came to a small shed. The shed was painted bright yellow and had a red roof. It looked funny. I laughed.

“Yes, it is a funny shed,” said my uncle.
“I like it,” I said.
“I'm glad you like it Adrian.”

My uncle opened the door. It was dark in the shed. The shed was full of tools. Harry pushed past and sniffed around the shed.

“Harry hopes he will find a mouse,” said my uncle.
“Will he?” I asked.
“Not likely, he's too noisy. The mice have long gone,” said uncle Danny as he looked inside the shed. “This is what I'm after. Perfect for playing with oak leaves.”

Uncle Danny held a rake in his hand. Together we walked back to the front yard and stood beneath the oak tree. My mother and aunt Jenny were on the porch talking. Aunt Jenny came down the steps and kissed my cheek. She smelled of scones.

I turned back towards the oak tree and saw my uncle raking the fallen leaves. He raked and raked and the mound of leaves grew larger and larger. I ran down the steps and joined him. The mound of leaves came up to my waist. He started on another mound. When it was as large as the first, he joined them with a third mound. Curious, I waited.

“There!” said uncle Danny, “we are ready to begin.”

With a roar, uncle Danny dove into the leaves. Laughing, I joined him. Leaves went everywhere. In my hair. In my mouth. They even tickled my ears. Leaves slid down my shirt and into my socks. Leaves flew in the air and fell like dry snow. Armfuls of leaves, legfuls of leaves. The air was flooded with leaves as my uncle and I laughed and screamed.

When the mounds were gone my uncle raked them back up again. This time we strove through the mounds with our legs. Driving through the leaves like huge tractors. Creating paths while leaves flew everywhere. From the porch I could hear my mother and aunt Jenny laughing and clapping their hands together.

Uncle Danny became a shark and swam in the leaves...
Next he became a bird and nestled in the leaves...
A fire, burning the forest...
A snake slithering through the long grass...
A dragon sleeping on his treasure...

I joined uncle Danny and between us we travelled to marvellous places. The leaves became whatever we wished. Whenever the mounds vanished my uncle would rake them back again.

Sometimes Harry joined us, barking and wagging his tail.

Birds flew passed, chittering at us for making so much noise.

Later mum called and the four of us sat on the porch. We had scones with jam and cream. After the scones, uncle Danny raked the leaves into a huge pile and we both climbed within and hid ourselves beneath the reds and oranges of the oak leaves.

The leaves became a fort…
A mysterious forest…
A home to elves…

The day began to darken.  Mum called to me. It was time to go home. I was sad. I wanted to stay. Mum came over and took hold of my hand. I felt the tears welling up in my eyes.

“Don't worry Adrian,” said uncle Danny,  “the oak tree will always be here.”
“Will the leaves be here too?”
“If it is autumn. Every autumn the leaves fall. Every spring they return. Just like you going away and coming back.”
“I was gone for a long time.”
“Yes you were, but now you are back.”

I kissed my uncle's cheek and he ruffled my hair with his hand. I patted Harry.

“Come on Adrian,” said my mother in a funny voice. I looked up at her and saw her eyes were moist.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Nothing,” said my mother, “I’m just glad to be back.”
“Me too,” I said.

“See you soon,” said Aunt Jenny.
“Very soon,” I said then I went and kissed aunt Jenny’s soft cheek.

I felt my uncle’s hand ruffle my hair.
“I love the oak tree, uncle Danny!” I cried.
“I love you Adrian. I'm glad you are back.”

Mum and I left uncle Danny, aunt Jenny and Harry at the gate. Uncle Danny and aunt Jenny stood waving to us as we drove away. Harry barked and wagged his tail.

Since then I have seen lots of trees and played with lots of leaves but I'll never forget that day. Uncle Danny says he will never forget it either.

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