(An assignment for the writers' group. The topic was "Sowing Seeds.")
From where she sat on the porch swing, Maria could easily see the birds’ nest in the old oak tree, growing mere feet away from the house. She closed her eyes, and listened to the baby birds crying to their mama to be fed. Smiling, Maria thought back to a day almost seventy years before.
“That’s it, Maria. Now cover it up with soil. Be sure to cover it well, now.”
“But Poppy, you said we were going to plant seeds today This is nothing but a rotten old acorn. And it’s even broken, too.”
“The acorn isn’t broken,” Poppy said with a smile. “Its shell is cracked, but inside that shell, there’s a seed. See that white thing coming out of the bottom? That’s the root. It’s already starting to sprout.”
Maria hadn’t been quite sure she believed what her grandfather was telling her, but had pushed her doubts aside, and taken him at his word. And sure enough, Poppy had been right, for the small acorn they planted that day, had grown into a tall, beautiful, majestic oak.
Maria thought back to her wedding day, remembering how the photographer had asked the newlyweds to pose at the foot of Maria’s Tree. A few years later, she remembered watching her husband hanging an old tire by a rope from its largest branch. She smiled at the memory of their children playing on that swing, and shuddered at the thought of her youngest, breaking his arm when he fell from the tree, after climbing far too high on a dare from his sister.
Year after year, Maria’s tree had brought such pleasure. In spring, it was home for nesting birds; in summer, respite from the afternoon heat; and in the fall, a playground for chipmunks and squirrels. The tree had become a part of her family.
Her granddaughter’s squeals of delight brought Maria back to the present. “Nonna! NONNA! Look what I found!” and the young girl opened her hand to reveal a treasure. On the child’s palm lay a cracked acorn, a root already protruding from its base.
Smiling, Maria pulled herself up from the porch swing. “I was about your age,” she began, “when your great, great grandfather and I planted an acorn just like the one you have there. And do you know what grew from that seed?”
The little girl thought for a moment before answering. “An acorn tree?” she asked.
“No darling, acorns grow into oak trees. That oak tree right there,” and she pointed to the tree growing next to the house, “is the tree that grew from the acorn your great, great grandfather and I planted.” Maria smiled, “I have an idea,” and she took the child by the hand. “Why don’t you and I plant that acorn you found. It’ll grow and grow, until it’s big and strong, just like my tree, and then you’ll have an oak tree of your very own.”