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I sat upon the warm grass, as a brilliant sun showered its yellows and golds upon the land, and I watched as he began to climb. He reached up and grasped the gnarled old branch, testing his handhold with a tug, and then pulling himself to his perch, with the help of a well-placed toe on a knot in the trunk.
His climb was unsteady, but I resisted the parent's natural urge to rush to his side and offer an assurance of his safety. This was a task that was for him alone, something of a rite of passage. Every young lad must scale his first tree, and savor the glory of attaining that branch. To intervene would defeat any chance of personal accomplishment.
With shaky nervousness, he had pulled himself up. As he sat upon the crusty bark of that old branch, he beamed. Why shouldn't he? It was the accomplishment of his tender five year old life to scale that tree. Though he sat a mere three feet above the grass, he may as well have scaled to the dizzying heights of Mount Everest.
After his slight pause, he stood on the branch steadying himself; with a myriad of smaller branches all about, he had no problem finding a grasping point. And then he reached for his reward, well within his meager reach. He wrapped his small fingers around the shiny red apple, and with a firm tug, it fell neatly into his palm. He had all he could do to stifle his joy, lest he fall from his perch as he bounced up and down in pure joy. Quickly, he made his escape from that branch, and with a rush he landed upon the grass in a heap, giggling as he rolled into my awaiting arms.
I hoisted him high into the air with a swirl and a laugh, as he beamed over his new-gotten prize. We plopped upon the warm grass, and lay back as the sun warmed us fully. I drank of the crisp Autumn air, drawing it deep inside of me, and as I breathed outward, all of the worries and tensions of the week escaped with the spent air and floated far away, taken by the air to a place that I would never find.
I rolled onto my side, facing him. He had begun to eagerly gnaw upon the apple he had picked. As he crunched into it, the smell of apples filled the air anew. Each bite he took brought back memories of a time when Grandmothers had baked an apple pie while you were in school, and there it sat upon the sill, an after-school snack to be shared with your school friend over a cold glass of milk. He was perfectly intent upon the apple, thoroughly enjoying it with every bite. It seemed that he let the world around him fade away, until it was him, and me, and the fresh tart apple, all within the apple grove sanctuary.
Nothing could touch us here, not bullies, or tests, or chores, or evil, or wars. There was no unrest in the Middle East, or terrorists threatening our way of life. There was me and my son, thanking God in His apple grove for a peaceful crisp Autumn day, as we enjoyed the fruits of His labor.
Nothing could be more perfect to me than days like that.
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