Volume 13, Issue 22 ~ June 2 - 8, 2005

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Bay Reflections

Carson’s Special Stick
by Gail Easterling

My son found his special stick when he was three. It was a beautiful, cloudless summer day, one of Maryland’s rare summer days with low humidity and an almost constant refreshing breeze. We were walking along the trail when my youngster joyously ran ahead of me and grabbed a stick off of the path. “Mommy!” he cried with excitement, “a stick!”

At the time it looked like an ordinary stick to me. It was an 18-inch brown and gray branch with yellowish splintering wood at the top where it had separated from the tree. It was a couple of inches wide with a narrow extension off of one side, giving it the look of a lopsided Y. On it were dotted several small, round, black knots.

In my son Carson’s young, curious mind, it was something extraordinary. “I’m going to keep it,” he stubbornly decided. He proudly carried the stick for the rest of the walk and insisted on bringing it home. Against my better judgment — what kind of a mother lets her three-year-old play with a stick? — the stick came home with us.

Little did I know then how that tree branch would inspire my son’s creativity and love for the out of doors. He started calling it his “special stick.” He wanted to bring it everywhere with him. For that whole summer he played with it almost every day.

Carson quickly found practical uses for his stick. I could not wait to see what his active imagination would do next with the stick. He used it to dig for worms in the damp garden. He used it as a shovel to load small piles of dirt onto his dump trucks and toy bulldozers. He made roads through the sand with it for his Matchbox cars to drive on.

Sometimes the stick was a golf club or a baseball bat. Sometimes it was a hose, and he would make believe he was watering the flowers or filling our fishpond. He dipped the wider end of the branch into a bucket of water and pretended to paint our split rail fence. It became an electric drill, a hammer, a pencil to draw in the sand with and a dog leash.

He spent hours pretending his special stick was a weed-eater. He asked me to tape a piece of his daddy’s weed-eater string on the end of his stick to make it like a real weed-whacker. He must have edged our backyard a hundred times. When he finished weed-whacking, he took the string off and pretended the branch was a leaf-blower and cleaned off all the sidewalks in the neighborhood. He always made appropriate sound effects to go along with whatever job his stick was doing.

The branch broke more than once but was mended with a thick piece of electrical tape. The tape never bothered him. As long as the branch was put back together, it was as good as new to him.

Now Carson’s special stick sits alone in his bedroom closet. He doesn’t play with it anymore.

I think it’s sad that the stick has been put away. My young son’s ingenuity and his special stick inspired me. But even as his stick rests, I’m remembering its lesson of resourcefulness, which Carson hasn’t yet forgotten.

Gail Easterling reflects from Stevensville. This is her first appearance in Bay Weekly.

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