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A Treatise on Waiting

My title is arguably a stretch, but Kevin Henkes’ new book Waiting (Greenwillow Books, 2015) is simple and profound, sparse in text and rich in meaning.  It gives readers a deeper appreciation of the role of waiting in our lives.

We often relate waiting with frustration: waiting for a raise, waiting for better times, waiting in line or stuck in traffic.  These are just grown-up versions of things we waited for as children: a birthday, a special holiday, the first snow – ok, I am waiting for snow too – where the anticipation may be exciting, even welcomed, but rarely considered peaceful.  Henkes gives readers a peak into a sense of time where waiting can be peaceful or comforting, an expectant part of life.

Some would define waiting as “the act of remaining inactive or stationary”.  While the toys in Waiting are motionless in their waiting, their delight in life removes the negative stigma around the definition above.  In Waiting, just being in the moment is enough.

I for one am going to appreciate and enjoy looking out my window and waiting for snow.  Don’t wait for snow to snuggle up with a favorite little one and read Waiting together, but do linger in the moment.

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The Gift of the Magpie (and Friends)

What do writers and holidays have in common?   Holiday writing contests.  I decided to try Susanna Leonard Hill’s  Holiday Writing Contest.

This is my entry/post…

The Gift of the Magpie (and Friends)

Flitting around the birdfeeder at the tiny woodland house, birds of all kinds shared the feast that appeared like magic when winter arrived. Chickadee dipped and swooped while spreading his dee dee dee cheer. Goldfinch called po-ta-to-chip. Titmouse tap-tapped his seed. Magpie noticed Sparrow whose feathers slumped as she stared in the window.

“What’s wrong dear friend? In this season of chill, these people feed us from their goodwill. You should chirp, you should sing, you should eat your fill.”

“It’s the boy,” Sparrow cried.

The birds loved the boy. He watched them whenever he was home, and he spent his allowance on birdseed.

“His mom said there isn’t enough money to buy a Christmas tree this year.”

Magpie peered into the house. The boy was drawing birds, but Magpie saw him wipe his eyes.

“We’ll help him smile, I do decree. We’ll get our friend a Christmas tree.”

The closest trees to the house were maples and oaks whose leaves had fallen for the winter. Squirrel nibbled the stem of a young cedar tree so they could take it to the boy. But the whole flock of birds couldn’t lift one tree.

“Plan B is better, this I know. You’ll still need your muscles though,” Magpie enthused.

They practiced making tree-shaped pyramids, but the bottom birds got tired or hungry before the star-bird could settle on top. On their third attempt the neighbor’s cat almost got her own Christmas treat! Feathers flew; Cat missed, but Magpie got an idea!

“Who says we need an evergreen? Come all my friends, it’s time to preen!”

On the dawn-quiet of Christmas morning, the boy donned boots and a coat. He went to the closest maple by his window to hang birdseed ornaments for his friends. He gasped and smiled. From it’s naked braches hung colorful, delicate feathers gleaming with the new day’s light. He sang out loud as he added his ornaments. “Merry Christmas my woodland friends!” The morning air filled with bird song in reply.