By Pamela Pacelli Cooper
with guest blogger Sharon Carey
When my colleague Mary-Anne taught a lunchtime class on Gingkoes a few weeks ago, she was surprised at all the memories that the trees elicited from her students.
I am sharing one of those memories here. It is a magical moment that remains luminous and meaningful even years after it happened.
Please enjoy this moment, written by Sharon Carey taught English at Miss Porter’s School in Farmington Connecticut, and now lends her talents to the Board of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UMass Boston.
Watching the Ginkgoes
One fall morning in 1986, Kate walked into my History of Theater Class, “Look at this weird leaf,” she said. “I’ve never seen one like it… It looks like a tiny, yellow fan.” She walked to the window and pointed, “It’s from that tree over there by the brick walk.” There were actually six identical trees standing in a row bordering the path. Ellie joined her and said, “That’s the ginkgo – a good luck tree; supposedly it survived Hiroshima; you can make a wish on the leaf” By now everyone was at the window. The ginkgo leaves were falling- not just fluttering down, a few at a time. Hundreds of leaves were falling, and because the wind was barely breathing they were dropping straight down into easy mounds around their trunks, almost as if someone had choreographed the movement.
The class bell had sounded and I went for my notes, but as I looked at the faces of my students, held by the sight of the falling leaves, I decided to wait. I waited and watched and waited for the moment when people would lose interest, but it didn’t come. We stood by that window for the entire class period, frozen in a spell. The only voice was a small one in my head reminding me to get back to work, but it was quickly silenced by the quiet that had overtaken the room.
In less than an hour, the trees were stripped bare. Not one leaf was left hanging – not one. Piles and piles of golden yellow leaves lay beneath the slim, straight trunks…
The bell rang and the students gathered their books and went away. I imagined their lunch-table conversation: “Boy did we get away with murder today. We didn’t do a thing in Theater Class …
Back then I felt guilty and hoped the academic dean wouldn’t hear about this wasted time. But now, I realize how I pulled one over on them, for, I have no memory of what profound lesson I was going to pass on that day or even that week, but I have never forgotten that beautiful morning, standing side by side with my students watching the ginkgo leaves fall. And I’ll bet a few of them remember it, too.
Your Magical Moment: This Thanksgiving, when friends and family gather together, why not ask everyone to share a Magical Moment of their own? Something that stays vivid and continues to give them sustenance whenever they call it to mind.