Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Burr

There once was a burdock plant.

It grew along a path that many traveled upon.  The path was one of well-worn dirt, trampled down by years of hikers and joggers, bikers and walkers of the four-legged variety and an occasional baby buggy or two.  There wasn't anything hidden or secretive about this path, it was a favorite of many.

But the burdock plant went unnoticed for many years.  It's burrs unoffensive to the many people that passed them by.  They were content to watch the people as they came and went along the path.

In those unnoticed years they saw many things - they rejoiced as couples got engaged along their path, they silently cheered on the runners that pounded down their path, they watched children laughing and tripping and crying and running along their path, they even got to witness as few first moments - first kisses, first steps, first broken bones, first birthdays - they were there to witness many of life's little and big moments.  The plant was a place of love and comfort for the burrs which grew upon it's branches.

And so it went.

But as the years passed by the burdock plant grew bigger, it's burrs reaching out towards the path.

Until then they had been tucked away from all the people and the path upon which they walked.  They seemed to like it that way, it seemed easier to be spectators rather than participants.  It was almost as if it was easier to partake in the big, loud, colorful, chaotic world by allowing it to pass them by rather than become tangled up in the messiness of living in it up close and personal.  Better to stay at arm's length and watch than to be caught up in not only the joys and the firsts and the celebration but the pain and the suffering and the tears.

That is how the burrs preferred it.

Or so they thought.

One day a girl was passing by - short, slightly blond, large-eyed, very slight girl was passing by.  She was the sort that moved with purpose, not wasting time.  She was followed by boys but didn't really seem to notice them, they were an afterthought in her pursuit of life.  She had made a quick turn off the path to sneak in a leisurely smoke, hoping to go unnoticed.  And in that moment.................


A burr broke loose and snagged her sweater and was ripped from it's branches, ripped from it's comfortable existence of being a spectator and was now a participant.

Oh my.

It's first experience off the plant, in this big wide world was on the sleeve of a SMOKER.

She coughed through the first and then the second, got used to the third and rather enjoyed the fourth.  After that the path was pursued and off they went.  She learned a bit more about the girl she was attached to.............this girl?  She was smart and loud and could be a bit crazy.  She was certain and expressed herself with ease, perhaps a bit too much ease, but she was confident.  She loved fiercely and selectively.  

The burr could have stayed with her for quite a long time but the girl was on her way home from school and brushed up along a boy and the burr was passed along..........just as she was getting used to the girl.


She spent a moment staring wistfully back at the girl until she noticed that a piece of the girl's sweater stuck to one of her hooks and she rejoiced.  A piece of the girl would remain with her as she traveled on.

Now this boy..........hmmm.  He was different.  Not so loud.  Not so crazy.  Definitely NOT a smoker.  The burr's smoking moments were over.  And yet............he, too, was certain and he, too, loved fiercely and selectively.  He seemed to stop for a moment and look down, noticing the burr.  It was a bit frightening, to be noticed and looked at in such a way.  But he seemed to not find the burr irritating or something to brush away.  Rather he carried her with him, appreciating the beauty of her hooks and the bit of color left by the one who last carried her.  He continued walking, he was on his way home and home they went.

Oh my.

That first smell.  That first whiff of something heavenly, even today the burr remembers.  Even more so than the sounds of the family that emerged.  It was unlike anything she had ever smelled.......the delicious aroma of sizzling onions and garlic in oil, tomatoes simmering, bread baking, sausage cooking and so much more.  They descended the basement stairs together - the burr, still stuck upon the boy's shirt.

And the feast began and ended some time later, followed by the cleaning up and the saying good-byes, the kisses and hugs and ciaos.  The boy left.  Back down the path.  The boy and the burr on the move again..........and wouldn't you know?

A couple passed by and SNAG.

The burr was passed along.  This time, though, she knew.  She knew that a piece of the boy would be with her always, a hook had captured a thread of his shirt.  It was part of her, just as the girl had given a piece of herself to the burr before the boy.  Their threads woven together with the burr, the slightly more colorful, more adventurous burr. The burr knew a bit of her beauty having been noticed and looked upon with care by the boy from before.

Now this couple..........they, too, were different from the ones before.  They moved at a faster pace.  The boy restless to get ahead, the girl thinking it might be nice to stop and smell some flowers, read a bit of poetry but somehow finding their pace together - in stops and starts, in slowing and speeding up.  They seemed to look up a lot, as though finding their way not from the path ahead but from someone above.  The path was coming to an end, though.  Hmmmm............the burr wondered where they were heading?

Oh my.

Did you ever have that feeling?  That feeling of possibility, that feeling that of maybe? The burr swelled.  Or maybe she just imagined the sensation of feeling fuller than before.  They had walked into a beautiful old building, sun streaming through it's colored windows.  They walked in and around and up and down..........talking and dreaming and planning.  The burr caught bits and pieces of their conversation - enough to get caught up in the passion and the hope and the excitement of it all.

They went to go but then the boy noticed her.  He looked upon the burr differently than the last boy had.  Where the last boy saw beauty, this boy saw possibility.  He began to get excited about all the uses for such a creation - the hooks and the loose threads and such.  But the girl stopped him.  She took the burr from his hands.  She walked it over to the place where the sun was streaming through the highest window and gently lay the burr upon the carpet.

She leaned down and whispered, "Just look up."

And then she left.

The burr looked up.  She saw in the glass a picture of a man, kneeling, with long hair of brown and asking eyes dressed in a long white robe and a feeling of peace washed over her.  It seemed she had come a long way since being snagged off the path, off the plant that she once was so contentedly prepared to inhabit for the rest of her days.  She had traveled so far, carrying with her pieces of that first girl, the boy that came next and the couple that brought her to this place.

She lay in that sun-lit space for a while longer..............until.

Oh my.

The doors burst open, the people began to gather, the room filled with music, words poured forth and the burr was passed from one person to the next in the jostling of the family that filled the room.  It was unlike anything the burr had ever experienced - along the path or in it's travels of that day.  The burr was wrapped in so much color and texture, it's hooks filled.  It seemed as if the life of this burr was forever changed.

Oh and then.............that first boy appeared in the crowd.  He cried out as he spotted the burr on the round belly of a woman, a bearded man at her side.  He gave them quick hugs, gave kisses to their precious babe and wrestled with the others and grabbed onto that burr.  He snuck it into his pocket, this man that never throws anything away, to keep her safe.  He knew that while the burr couldn't always remain hidden that every created thing needs a place of rest and so he became that for this colorful, now adventurous burr.

He made the rounds to this big, bustling family.......the boy's good-byes are always long, a last word to be had, a last hug to be given, a child to tease or chase or love.......and then he stopped.  He walked over to the window where the burr had been laid gently down just hours before and together they looked up.

The boy smiled at the burr and said, "Let's go."

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