Sticks in the Yard

It’s a beautiful autumn day, the kind where the sky’s blue looks fake and the wind turns each brilliant-hued tree into a confetti party. A little girl in running around in the backyard of the old house in the middle of the street. Except it isn’t a yard anymore; it’s actually a perilous forest, and the fallen branch she’s just discovered is the perfect sword with which to defend herself.

That little girl is me, about eighteen years ago. This is a story about sticks and what they mean to me.

I love sticks. I guess that makes me sound like a dog, but it’s true. As a dog-walker, I have the opportunity to walk in many neighborhoods and parks, and I can’t tell you how many times I see a stick that I want to pick up and play with. Here’s the thing though: when I see a stick, it doesn’t look like the cast-off bits of a tree to me. No, such fallen tree bits are bows, arrows, scepters, wands, staffs, daggers…all sort of things. And I want to play with them. I have, in case you didn’t know, a very vivid and active imagination. I have entire worlds residing in my head. When I go about my daily life, especially when I’m outside, I see two layers of reality: the one outside my head, and the one inside it.

Recently I was walking a dog in a park, and I saw (don’t laugh at me) this beautiful branch, exactly the height and shape of a fantastical staff. To me, it was a staff, and it called to me to pick it up and play with it. That sounds odd, I know. But my imagination is hard to resist, and honestly kind of a bother to live with.

My life is a series of sticks in the yard.



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