What’s Been Happening Lately

The Willow Tree’s Demise

The willow tree that is close to the house fell down in a forceful but short storm we had recently. It was not surprising, considering the base of the tree was getting carved out with rottenness. It had been a landmark on our property; especially more of a landmark once our maple tree was gone and it was the tallest tree around our house. We used to like to play on it, also–I remember sitting on it and pretending I was on an airplane, or spaceship, or something like that. Something about the spindly twigs coming out above the base of the tree in all different directions and at different lengths, like a hundred (or so it seemed to a little kid) different controls at your command, and the rotted-out base with all the delightful nooks and crannies to climb upon, made it very inviting to play on. We would sit upon the hump that sheltered the rotted-out base, holding onto the slender willow twigs and pretending that we were controlling our imaginary airplane. A couple of people—probably Arlie, maybe Rundy too—had tried to climb it higher, and I think there was even a board nailed up on it to make it easier to climb. But it really wasn’t a good tree for climbing, and we slowly started playing on the apple trees instead.

Despite its deteriorating condition, it continued standing there over the years, even through many fierce storms. Dad had said at one point that he’d be very surprised if it lasted a year, but a year passed and still, like a weary old man who refuses to give up, the willow tree held on. That is, until just a couple of weeks ago, on a certain day when Evan happened to be complaining that nothing interesting was happening–more precisely, that he wished something would. “I wish something interesting would happen!” he grumped. “Like the power going out!” (We all gave him funny looks.)

Only shortly later, as if in answer, a violent storm suddenly started. Rain came gushing down, and then the wind blew it so that it almost went straight sideways. Evan was delighted; Caleb was scared and started to cry. He wasn’t quite sure what he was scared of, but whatever it was, he didn’t like it! I could sympathize, because I used to be terrified of storms as well. They still do make Mom nervous, but I find that they don’t bother me so much anymore.

I comforted Caleb and sat with him and Deirdre on the couch until suddenly Evan’s voice bellowed out: “HOORAY, SOMETHING INTERESTING DID HAPPEN–THE WILLOW TREE CAME DOWN!!”

“Really?” people exclaimed, and they all jumped up in excitement to go look. “Yup!” Evan replied proudly. Standing there on the porch, we had to squint through the rain which was being blown wildly all around us, but sure enough, there it was, on the ground! Rundy immediately craned his neck to see what was concerning him the most. “Did it get the apple tree? Did it get the apple tree? Oh, phewsh!” he cried. The great old willow tree was snapped at the base and sprawled out cornerwise on the ground, narrowly missing the apple tree. I was surprised that I hadn’t heard anything—I would’ve expected it to go out with a dramatic “CRACK!” But instead, it was standing as usual one minute, and the next keeled over gruesomely as if it suddenly decided life wasn’t worth living and committed suicide. Other witnesses, namely Lachlan and Collin, say they saw it swaying and heard a crack, but it wasn’t loud enough for me to hear from where I was.

After the storm cleared up, we all went out to look at it. It had cracked off at the rotted part of the base, with big jagged shards sticking out where it had it had cracked. To me, it looked majestically defeated. I had never really seen a tree up-close after it had come down before; our maple tree was just cut up bit by bit by a road crew. Upon closer inspection, it became apparent that the willow tree did do the apple tree damage after all, to Rundy’s dismay. It had only grazed it, but that was enough to strip off a lot of its bark, make a whole bunch of little unripe apples fall off, and worst of all, uproot it slightly.

The weather conditions, also, were very unusual and interesting to look at after the storm had cleared up. The atmosphere was moody, with the intense and dramatic lighting you often get after a storm, and the sky constantly changing. The wet driveway shone in the luminous light, and droplets of water on the trees on the field across the road sparkled in the sunlight. On the western horizon, above these trees, it was cloudy in a light-hearted sort of way, with the sun shining through the shifting clouds. On the eastern horizon the sky was a dark gray with bedraggled white clouds racing by. The sun shining from the west lit up the trees on the hill of the eastern horizon dramatically–the trees were lit up, yet the sky behind it was dark, making a stark contrast. It made the sky seem separate from the horizon; it looked like there was a sheet of gray sky set behind the horizon, as opposed to the sky coming down to meet the horizon like it normally looks. It gave the effect of looking like the world just suddenly dropped off behind the hill on the horizon.

All in all it was a very interesting day. It was weird having the willow that we’d always had and played on gone at first. There was just a big empty spot where there was supposed to be something there. We got used to it pretty fast, though faster than we did (or at least I did) when the big maple tree on our front lawn came down.

An Unusual Fear

That night, there was an extra lot of commotion at supper with both Caleb and Deirdre afraid: Caleb (3) of the storm, and Deirdre (14 mos) of a fly. That’s right, just a common housefly! She suddenly, right out of the blue, burst into tears–and not just in a whiny sort of way like she does sometimes either; she was going hysterical.

We were all perplexed, until Titi noticed the fly that was buzzing around her and waved it away. Deirdre’s hysteria subsided slightly, but she still continued to cry for a long time after that. I couldn’t believe that it really could’ve just been a fly making her cry at first, but it soon became clear that was the case. Mom tried to console her, saying, “That was scary, wasn’t it? The fly flew away! He’s all gone now! He went bye-bye!” But it only made her cry louder, moaning piteously “Bye-Bye! Aww-gun! Aww-gun! ‘Way!” (All gone, away) over and over through her tears and pointing to the spot on her tray where the fly had landed. This was the best she could articulate the horrific thing that had just happened.

When Mom took her out of her chair and put her on her lap, she continued on tearfully telling her woeful tale and motioning with her hand the fly flying around. It looked kind of funny, so some of the little kids couldn’t help giggling a little.

The same ordeal happened from then on whenever a fly came anywhere near her; she would burst into hysterical crying until someone came and saved her.

That is, until she figured out she could have control over them with the wonderful things called fly swatters! She would still be quite disturbed by their appearance, but there was a sense of comfort in knowing that she had power over them. Once we came to rescue her, exclaiming, “Oh, it’s a fly! Should we kill it? Should we smack it?” she would quickly pick up the cue, urging “‘Mack it! Kih-it! Mack! Mack! Mack-it!”

One time she decided she wanted to smack it herself, which was cute to watch. She grabbed the fly swatter determinedly and swatted the ground with all the force her arms could muster, which wasn’t much. Of course the fly was already long gone by the time the swatter hit the floor, but I think it made Deirdre feel better. After that we went around the kitchen, searching for flies and exterminating all those we found.

I had picked up a dead one in a paper towel. I asked if we should throw it in the garbage, and the answer was an enthusiastic affirmative. But when I asked her if she wanted to throw it in the garbage and offered it to her, she drew back with a great shudder. This was going too far! Killing the flies was good, but she was still utterly repulsed by them.

The Last Exciting Thing

Exciting for somebody, that is. I was walking along the Secret Garden, when I heard Owen shouting, “Cadie, Cadie! Where are you?! Guess what!!!” He sounded so excited, at first I thought something really wonderful must’ve happened. He came running up to the path where I was. “Guess what happened, guess what!! I lost a TOOTH!”

This last bit is shorter than the others, because I didn’t write it until I had forgotten a good deal!