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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Elephant Tree (August 25, 2010)

One day, as a boy was getting into the car with his mom, he spotted a wild animal exploring his suburban neighborhood. "Mom, there's an elephant behind our neighbor's house," he shouted with a mix of excitement and disbelief.

His mom looked in the direction he pointed and sure enough, there did appear to be an elephant behind the house across the street. "Let's go check it out," his mom said, and they got into the car, feeling very much like they were on a real safari.

A block away the boy and his mom found the elephant in front of someone's house. It was taller than a house, and it held its head toward the sun. It was actually a tree, growing in a way they had never seen before. Why was it not growing straight up, as many trees do? Why did it have one rebellious branch, growing diagonally in the exact shape of an elephant's trunk? Why did the part leading up to the trunk look exactly like an elephant's head? Neither the boy nor his mom had answers to their questions, and they were just a little bit disappointed that it wasn't a real elephant. But they gazed at the tree with wonder and felt glad that such a magical tree lived in their neighborhood.

Sometimes the boy and his mom imagine that the elephant tree has a secret life after dark. All day long he stays still while others look at him, but night time is his chance to look around. When the neighborhood shuts its eyes and goes to sleep, under the light of the stars the elephant tree stretches his trunk, shakes his ears, and slowly lifts his legs, eager to explore. Through the silent streets he tiptoes (as much as an elephant can tiptoe). Nighttime is his favorite time because he talks to the moon and smells the jasmine growing at his neighbors' houses. Only the moon knows the elephant's secret, because no one ever has ever seen him during his discoveries in the dark. At least not yet...

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