Monday, June 30, 2008

Laura Jean Climbs Granddaddy’s Tree

Now little one,
Let me tell you a story about my mama’s mama.
She was a little girl named Laura Jean.

Her Nanny used to say to her
“Laura Jean,
don’t let them call you Laura.
Don’t let them call you Jean.
Your name is Laura Jean
because you’re a lady.”

Laura Jean was a tree climber
and there was an oak tree in her front yard.
That tree was a great ole oak tree.
Folks said her great granddaddy planted that tree.
Old, tall, and wise, it was the best climbin’ tree around,
and that tree had the best of Laura Jean every time.

One day Laura Jean woke up
after a good night’s rest,
walked across the room to her window
looked across the front yard
at that ole tree,
threw open the window and yelled,
“Tree. Tree, do you hear me?
Today, I’m gonna climb you, you ole Tree.”

Now little one, you and I both know
that when Laura Jean gets something in her head
it was stuck there good.
And it takes an awful lot to change it.
As if you ever could.

Laura Jean pulled on her best tree climbin’ overalls
and put her arms through her favorite climbin’ shirt.
She struggled with her socks and slipped into her shoes,
marched down stairs and out the front door,
with the screen door slapping behind her.

Her Nanny called after her,
“Laura Jean you come eat your breakfast.”

Laura Jean paid no attention to Nanny,
crossed the front porch,
and skipped down the front steps two at a time.

She walked right up to that ole granddaddy tree.
With her hands on her hips,
She surveyed the tree from roots to the tip-top branches
and lept onto the tree like she was wrestlin’ a bear.

She climbed and climbed.
Half way up and feeling sure of herself
she stopped,
blew back her wild black hair
and looked up, down and all around
takin’ in the challenge to come.

Just as she did,
the wind blew
or maybe she lost her balance,
or maybe that ole granddaddy tree laughed just a little.
Little one, nobody knows just what happened.

But just as Laura Jean took in
the site of her accomplishments yet to come
and pridefully thought about
conquering that ole tree
she fell.
She lost her balance and fell,
all of two branches, about five feet.
And, you know what Little One?
That ole granddaddy tree,
like a granddaddy would in just such a case,
reached out and grabbed Laura Jean
by the seat of her pants.

There she was
neither half-way up nor half-way down
hangin’ suspended by her overalls,
swinging back and forth
with the most lemon puckered face
you’ve ever seen.

Little One, Laura Jean hung there
by grace from that ole tree,
until a longtime came noon.
A very hungry little girl
began thinking about food.

Meanwhile, in the kitchen
Nanny finished making Laura Jean a sandwich
laid it on a china plate,
with blue birds and trees painted on the edge,
and went lookin’ for Laura Jean
so’s she could come eat.

Nanny had seen Laura Jean speed into the front yard
so she began on the front porch.

She looked this way.
She looked that way.
She looked up, across, and down the street,
and hollered “Lauuuura Jeeeeean,
come in this house,
your lunch is ready.”

Little one, did Laura Jean answer?
She did not.
She was so busy dreamin’ of sandwiches, and pears
Nanny’s voice flew right by her like a mosquito buzzing in your ear.

“Maybe Laura Jean went to the back yard,”
thought Nanny to herself.
She walked through the house and out the kitchen door.

She looked all across the back yard
and hollered “Lauuura Jeeeeean
come in this house.
Lunch is ready.”

Little one, did Laura Jean answer?
She did not.

So Nanny turned back into the house
she walked into the front parlor
thinkin’ the whole time
Laura Jean was making a joke on her.
Nanny stood there and shook her finger at the couch
and hollered “Lauura Jeeeeean
lunch is ready. Little lady you stop this nonsense right now.”

afar off
Nanny heard a hollerin’ and a wailin’.
She went out through the front hall
out the front door.
A commotion of branches,
and leaves, twigs, and acorns
rained down from that ole granddaddy tree.
You would’a thought a whole mess of squirrels were having an argument
about whose acorn was whose
the way the tree rocked and shook.

So, Nanny went down the front stairs
as inquisitive as inquisitive can be.
She walked cautiously
across the yard to that ole tree
looked up
and there
hangin’ from the seat of her pants
danglin’ and mad as a wet hen
was Laura Jean
the first tree climbin’ lady of the south.

Nanny paused
so as to compose herself
to keep from rollin’ all over the front yard in hysterics
and laughin’ till she cried.
Nanny took a deep breath and
said in her most southern,
most dignified,
most outright surprised voice,
“Laura Jean. What you doin’ hangin’ up in that tree?”

Then as if she was a giant,
as tall as tall can be,
Nanny reached right up
grabbed Laura Jean by the seat of her pants
and set her down on the ground.
Nanny gave her a big hug,
walked her into the kitchen,
sat her at the table.
Nanny placed that sandwich
accompanied by
a sliced pear decorated with mayonnaise and grated cheese
in front of Laura Jean.
Then Nanny crossed her legs
and sat there readin’ Laura Jean the funny papers.

Little one, did Laura Jean take one bite?
She did not.
Did Laura Jean hear one word of the funny papers?
She did not.
She sat there with a face as pink as a pink lady apple
and an expression that looked like someone had gone and pulled her ponytail.
Laura Jean sat there with her chin in her hands,
and thought about that ole granddaddy tree.

Now little one, you and I both know
that when Laura Jean gets something in her head
it was stuck there good.
And it takes an awful lot to change it.
As if you ever could.

No comments: