|Father Like a Tree (ISBN 978-0-9761528-0-4)|
For almost every one of the past nine years, the two Beautiful Daughters and, when he was old enough, The Favorite Son (TFS) have spent part of their summers at Waldorf-influenced Free Spirit Nature Camp in Westtown, New York. Every year, they have a blast! This summer, the First Beautiful Daughter is working as a junior counselor while her sister, the Second Beautiful Daughter (SBD) is a counselor in training. TFS is just a happy camper!
This year, camp owner/manager Kate Fox asked me to do the reading presentation for my children’s title, Father Like a Tree, for the five and six year old “Leaping Frogs,” the seven and eight year old “Laughing Coyotes,” and the nine and ten year old “Running Deer.” The 11 and 12 year old “Trackers” were a little too old for this particular presentation.
I did my regular presentation, which includes the story of how I wrote Father Like a Tree, recounting the night more than ten years ago when SBD was just four years old and I told her a story as I put her to bed one night. I also suggested some of the connections between the story and being a parent or a child. Inn addition and as a result of the opportunities the venue provided, I added another dimension: I asked some of the kids to come up and act out the story, for which almost all were more than willing to volunteer.
|Literally, under a canopy of leaves and branches|
Although nature is a metaphor for our community in Father Like a Tree, there are really just five main characters: the Tree, the Beautiful Bird, and the three Baby Birds. The little five year old girl, Alexa, who portrayed the Beautiful Bird was beautiful herself, innocent, and so completely without pretense, I was moved.
As the children who acted the parts of the three Baby Birds crouched and pretended to be unhatched eggs, Alexa pretended to lay them. Everyone laughed. She was more than credible as a mother bird as she flew “down through the canopy of leaves and branches to the forest flow below” to look for food for her Baby Birds.
Alexa’s enthusiasm was infectious until, about half of the way through the book, Alexa looked at me with fretful eyes and told me urgently, “I have to PEE!” So, I solicited an understudy and continued the story as Alexa ran off toward the little ladies' room.
Once I’d finished reading and the kids had finished acting, I explained that almost every story means something more than just the words in it. I told the children that Father Like a Tree was my story; I was the tree an my children, all three of whom watched and listened as I read, were the three Baby Birds. Then, one of the campers asked, “Who is the Beautiful Bird?”
I responded, “Well, it was my children's mom!”
It’s always fun to watch a group of children connect to a story I’ve written when I read it to them. All of the kids were happy to learn that they would go home with their very own copy of the book, which I sat down and personally inscribed for each one of them. Even a few of the counselors asked for a copy!
Great day! Great camp! Thanks Kate Fox and everyone at Free Spirit Nature Camp for allowing me to be a part of your program this summer!
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