I met Zazie at the park on the first sun-baked day of spring. I was ablaze. I had an idea for a story and needed to share it with someone who could really take the heat. Zazie is open, wild, a free-thinker.
Trees talk to me.
In my excitement, I spilled the title first, but before I could say another word, she responded tartly,
Brenda, trees don’t talk.
I was taken aback but got it together, insisting they do. She shook her head and smiled exactly like my husband did when I first told him. Heat stung my cheeks, I argued,
How do you know, you’re six years old?
Zazie didn’t take the bait, shook her head and slowly repeated,
Trees… don’t… talk.
She caught my fluster and stared me down. Her eyes rolled and her tongue stuck out.
I felt my feet sink into the earth and realized that it was time to expand the universe and blow her formally educated mind. I suggested she listen for herself, and pointed a few feet away where a towering 150 year-old Maple had been following our conversation with interest. It smiled warmly, but at that point, only I could see.
Imagine how many kids have told this tree their most secret of secrets? I suggested and provoked.
Zazie shrugged her shoulders, deciding, in good faith, to humour me, and she moseyed over.
The Maple grunted her approval in the way that trees do.
Zazie’s eyes grew large.
Closer, I said.
She reached out, inched her way in and gingerly touched the tree, fingers whispering over its ancient bark.
The Maple sighed.
Birds twittered in the sky.
Zazie leaned in; I could see her lips move.
Without warning, her arms burst open and wrapped around the Maple’s massive trunk as she hugged her tightly to her little chest. Her eyes squeezed shut and I felt the power of her secret wish:
Talk to me.
The tree cried out her delight!
Zazie’s eyes softly shut.
The birds tweeted her name through the branches. The sun winked down at her from the sky.
Zazie is learning what we all need to know.
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