When Shelby was little she had a huge fascination with acorns. Acorns and leaves, really. The fall before she turned three she collected the fallen acorns like it was her job. She would pick them up from the playground at her preschool and stuff her pockets to over flowing. She would gather them from our backyard and stuff boxes and bags full of them. When she couldn’t manage to hold any more on her own she would stuff them in her brother’s pockets.
Leaves were brought in the house and they were traced around and painted and glittered until they fell into tiny crumbles of dust in her hands. And all over the floors. She would run to me with handfuls of acorns and leaves and sticks, as if she had just stumbled across a pirates bounty of rubies, emeralds, and diamonds. Her eyes would twinkle and her chubby, rosy cheeks would be all aglow with exciting from her hunt.
I pulled acorns out of the washer and dryer by the box fulls that fall. As much as I tried to empty all of her little pockets, lone acorns would manage to hide. I could hear their tumbling and banging in the dryer as it tossed and would know I’d missed one.
One day she found a particularly large acorn at school. She was
so proud and couldn’t wait to show her daddy. We stopped by the grocery store after school to buy a few more ingredients for dinner and she was singing a little made up song about her acorn as we crossed the parking lot. Suddenly she screamed a scream like a child who’d had a limb cut off. Her sweaty hand broke free from mine and she was running after something. Cars were pulling in and backing out (this is a mother of toddlers worst nightmare) and I’m chasing her as I balance her brother on my hip.
She had dropped her acorn. Her prized acorn. The biggest one she’d ever found had rolled from her hand while she was serenading it and went straight under the tire of a car. It was crushed. She was crushed. She sobbed like she’d lost her best friend.
Shelby gave up acorn collecting later that fall. When she opened one of her treasure boxes (which I believe was an empty Velveeta box) and saw tiny worms crawling around her gems she was done. Her fall potpourri all went to the back yard and the trash.
I remember that story, that phase of life, every time I sweep our back porch. The acorns and leaves and twigs, that can be such a nuisance to the pool were so precious to my girl at one point in time. I spend so much time working to rid my yard of the very thing she sought after with all her heart. They remind me that seasons change. Life moves quickly. New life, new experience, new lessons are always evolving around me. Things that are a pain one day can be a blessing the next. Things I cherish today just might be tomorrow’s trash.
So every time I see an acorn, whether I’m tossing it over the fence or admiring it’s charm, I am reminded of all the blessings in my life. The little blessings. The big ones. The ones I collect and the ones I sweep away.
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