A couple of things took me by surprise as I went for a walk in the Southwestern tip of Connecticut this afternoon. Minding my own business, I rambled, trying to make a buck tracking a herd of wild geese for a reward (there had been reports of rogue geese terrorizing the villagers and a small cash reward of $12 a goose was posted.)
And there, by surprise (that’s the first surprise if you were counting) was the actual gaggle of geese marauding near an open field by a private pre-school (imagine! A private pre-school! Little children. Wild geese. (I’ll give you a moment to paint the mental pictures as well as allow a brief moment for a shudder.))
I saw them move towards something in the field, which suddenly sprang up (I say “sprang” but it was more of a “rise and walk” type of thing) and shouted (again “shouted” was kind, it was more like “uttered a burst of panic with the force of the last bit of air in a week-old balloon.))
“Geese. Geese. Run for your lives. Geese.”
The geese all picked up their heads and watched as this very old man stumbled away. They then fertilized the area, and continued their marauding–this time, away from the private pre-school. I pursued them, tracing their path. Taking steps. Stopping. Taking steps. Stopping. They did the same. I wasn’t gaining on them at all. It was a staccato chase that was more dance than rundown. I would not pocket any multiple of 12 that day. But…
(and here comes surprise number two…)
…as I passed where the old man was sitting, I heard a voice.
I looked around and saw nothing except an old stump.
“Boy?” the stump repeated.
(Yes a talking stump — told you it was a surprise.)
ME: Excuse me?
STUMP: I missed you.
ME: I’m actually not who you think I am…there was a…
STUMP: I am not who I am either. I have no more branches to give you. I have no more apples…
ME: No, I get it, you’re a stump. That’s okay, I’m just not “Boy?” I did see an old guy hobble away…
STUMP: He left?
ME: Yeah. Did you know him?
STUMP: Get a good look at me. I gave him the best years of my life. Go ahead, count my rings.
ME: He might be back.
STUMP: Oh he will. He will. Probably dig up my roots to make his funeral pyre.
ME: That’s grim.
STUMP: You speak in verse for an entire lifetime and see how you feel. What, did he go and get a shovel?
ME: He ran…sort of. I think the geese spooked him.
STUMP: Well…well I hope he…I hope he…I hope he comes back.
ME: I’m sure that he will. I mean this is a wonderful place to sit and just…sit. Reflect. Relax. Reassess.
STUMP: Go ahead, have a seat.
ME: Are you sure? Will I still be able to hear you talk or will I be sitting on your…mouth?
STUMP: My voice projects through a small knot-hole in the side. Go ahead, park it.
ME: He’ll be back you know.
STUMP: I know.
ME: Geese can be scary.
STUMP: I know. Are you scared of the geese?
ME: I’m scared of the metaphor of the geese.
STUMP: You can wait with me until he comes back.
And I did.
And the Tree was happy.
(and so was the Man who chased the Boy who met the Tree who became the Stump.)