Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Writing challenge: Fall

Every month my writers group issues a writing challenge. For this coming meeting, we are to write about Fall. Hope you don't mind me sharing this with you!


"It's fall time, Mommy!" my three-year-old son calls excitedly from the backseat of our small, four-door car.

We are in the middle of a lengthy road trip, and along the way my son has had the chance to notice many trees that are missing their leaves. When he first saw a leafless trees, he had called out in horror that the trees were dead. Like many three-year-old children, my little boy is a bit obsessed with understanding the difference between life and death. He notices dead bugs everywhere we walk, wilted flowers, brown leaves on the ground, and branches that have fallen from trees and dried. "It's a dead tree!" I had heard my son call time and time again when we first began our trip. Now that he is contenting himself with talking about "fall time" I am beginning to think he believes me when I promise him that the trees are not, in fact, dead.

As the miles continue, my inquisitive little boy shifts his attention to other items outside the car window. For a time he is fixated on hay bales of different sizes and shapes. One great thing about driving across Iowa and Nebraska with a child who notices everything is the plentiful presence of hay bales. Next we examine construction equipment, and I rehearse the various names of the trucks: cement mixer, steam roller, dump truck. I think I've learned more about trucks in the past month than I had learned in my my entire life leading up to this point. My son and I notice cattle grazing, horses running and foals following their mothers. We see streams and ponds, cloudless skies and overcast ones. But then, the dreaded preschool question comes and I flounder to give a sufficient answer.

"It's fall time, Mommy!" he begins. "Why is it fall time?"

Oh no. He's done it. He is asking me why, and the truth is I don't know.

After stumbling all over myself for a time, I manage to respond, "I don't know."

My lack of knowledge does nothing to diminish his excitement. "That's because it is, Mommy," he says as he answers his own question. Fortunately, that answer was good enough for him.

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