Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Slice of Life: Lost and Found Writing

Almost 20 years ago, we lived in a neighborhood with a magnificent gingko tree at the end of our street. It stood, not in a yard, but in front of an industrial business. One autumn morning, when I was out early walking the dog, I found the tree, which had been full of yellow light just the day before, a skeleton of bare branches with a perfect circle of yellow leaves on the ground underneath it. I went home and wrote this story.

*   *   *   *   *

In the Way Back, in the time of naming things, Earth Woman lived beside the Gingko Tree. 

During the Hot Time, its fan-shaped leaves cooled her all through her working days. 

As the nights grew chilly and the days shortened, Earth Woman was more and more thankful for the warmth of her fire.

One morning, Earth Woman noticed that the tree who had fanned her in the Hot Time had turned the bright yellow of the flames of her fire. Even though the tree gave off no heat, its yellow light warmed her all through her working days.

Soon there came a night of sharp frost, and the day that followed was no warmer. The Cold Time had stopped teasing and had finally arrived. 

Earth Woman sat in the yellow light of the Gingko Tree and pulled her blankets more tightly around her on that first morning of the Cold Time. She turned her thoughts back to the Hot Time and thanked the Spirits for all of the particular joys of that time. Then she said goodbye to those memories as she prepared to embrace each of the particular joys of the Cold Time.

As she began releasing her memories, she heard a faint rustling around her and felt light kisses on her head and shoulders and knees. She opened her eyes for a moment and saw that the Gingko was also releasing its memories in a steady flutter of leaves -- the yellow light, like shattered rays of sun or individual flames of fire, was leaving the tree to join Earth Woman on the ground.

Earth Woman smiled, closed her eyes, and resumed her goodbyes.

When she opened her eyes again, the tree was bare and she sat in a pool of fallen light. Her memories of the Hot Time had all been released and she was ready to accept this first memory of the Cold Time. She looked around at the fallen leaves, the fallen light, and she named her first memory of the Cold Time. 

She named it Fall. 

*   *   *   *   *

On Sunday, we biked through our old neighborhood and then south for an hour in the glorious autumn sunshine. The gingko tree is still there, and so is the ghost of Earth Woman.


  1. Oh Mary Lee, I love this line: "the Gingko was also releasing its memories in a steady flutter of leaves."

    Perfect and beautiful. Fall is a season I miss completely and must live it through others' pictures and stories. Thank you for both.

  2. I'm happy you found the story, Mary Lee. Beautifully imagined, & then the pictures-still there! Love "the Gingko was also releasing its memories in a steady flutter of leaves". Guess I too love this line!

  3. I'd love to sit in a pool of fallen light...lovely story, and lovely photographs, Mary Lee!

  4. Love that you found the story and shared it. It is important to reread our writing. I know I rarely reread what I have written and I should. I wonder how often we give our students time to read previous pieces and reflect. Thank you for sharing - beautiful image and story.

  5. I love your Earth Woman story. Thanks for sharing it and the lovely gingko tree. I only know of one gingko nearby so I need to be on the lookout for this glorious yellow show.

  6. Beautiful story and photos. Thank you!

  7. I enjoyed your story. We planted a gingko for my son when he was in 3rd grade. He's a high school senior now and growing faster than the tree (they are slow growers). Yes -- there comes a day in the fall when all of the yellow leaves seem to fall off in one go.


Comment moderation is turned on.