#WritersResist courtesy of @WebstersBooks

This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of reading once again with many of my talented neighbors and friends at the second #WritersResist event held by State College’s beloved indie bookstore, Webster’s.

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For this particular reading, I decided to go with a piece written many years ago for my children. The Dreamer’s Tree, as it eventually became titled, came out of a quiet summer afternoon that found my three children and I searching for something to do. So I told them a story, making it up as I went along–talk about pressure, right?!? But I managed to weave a tale without too many holes and the ending I stuck without any problem (I’ve always been a writer who needs to know the ending before I can start writing–or in this case, telling).

Eventually, as I heard my children mention the story again and again when they’d conjure up memories from summers past, I decided it was a tale worth writing down.

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At our second local #WritersResist event, with the theme of Looking Forward, I wanted to share something hopeful. And so I found myself going back to this cherished story from when my children could still fit in my lap and be carried to bed; looking back and looking forward at the same time.

The evening featured powerful readings from Cate Fricke, Nicole Miyashiro, and several other poets, singers, and writers from the Happy Valley region. It was a night full of camaraderie, hope, intensity, and calls to action. But most of all, it was a gathering of love, for our town, for the written word, and for each other.

 

 

The Frog

Once upon a time, there was a frog who wanted to cross a river.  The frog saw a beautiful yellow rose blooming on the opposite bank of the river, and wanted so much to experience the flower up close.

The frog was certain that, as in the past, something or someone would come along and help him over to the other side of the river, and to his lovely flower.  So, he waited and waited for this something or someone to come.

At first, he thought perhaps the sun would carry him across on its strong rays of sunshine.  But, when he tried to hop onto the light, he simply fell straight through.  So the sun would be no help, he determined.

Then, he considered whether raindrops might be able to help him.  He could skip from one rain drop to another until he was safely on the other side of the riverbank.  But again, the rain proved too fragile to really be of any help.

The next day was cloudy with fog, and the frog once again thought that perhaps a cloud could carry him across the river.  He hopped and hopped in the fog all afternoon, but never found a cloud that could carry him.

Frustrated and tired, the frog sat down on the edge of the river and stared across at the lovely rose.  He resigned himself to never being able to hold it in his hands, or smell its sweet fragrance.  No one could help him.

A sudden gust of wind struck up and, catching him off his guard, the frog fell into the river.  Not realizing that frogs are naturally born swimmers, the frog had never been in the water and in fact had never swum before.  He panicked, and wiggled his legs and arms to and fro in a panic.  How could he survive this?  No one was there to help him!

But his legs and arms were no longer moving randomly.  His swimmer instincts had taken over, and his body, as if moving by itself, began to swim with long and broad strokes.  By the fifth stroke, he was across the river safely and, to his amazement, sitting underneath the soft yellow petals of the rose he had admired from a distance.

Reaching up with his webbed hand to touch the flower for the first time, the frog was struck by the fact that he had accomplished his goal without the help of anyone or anything else.  From then on, the frog knew that he could always count on himself to help in times of trouble.