Magnolias, Oaks & Superheroes

Here’s a portion of the script from this week’s Orthodixie Podcast on Ancient Faith Radio. (Orthodixie podcasts air Sunday through Saturday.) You don’t need an iPod to listen to Podcasts and you don’t have to catch the Podcasts “live.” Go to Ancient Faith Radio and click Tune in Here to listen “live” on your computer; or, go to the Orthodixie page (or any of the others) in the side margin to listen to individual Podcasts at your leisure.

My great grandmother had a prized Magnolia tree in front of her farm house. As a kid, I didn’t know much about tree species, seeds, blooms, blossoms and such. Like most kids, the world was made for, well … me.

Therefore it was a total shock when I discovered that Magnolia trees are NOT for climbing — at least according to Miss Emma, my great grandmother.

You Southerners know about the wonderful hand grenades that grow on Magnolia trees. In Adult World, these seed-cones are known to flower into a beautiful Southern treasure — the state flower of Mississippi and Louisiana. But, when you’re 5, 6, maybe 8 or so — they serve as fabulous projectiles sure to spice up any boring ol’ family reunion (but only if you’re a male — aged 10 or under).

Which brings me back to that one that grew on my great-grand’s farm …

Instead of plucking through the old cones on the ground, a few of us boys decided to climb up into the Magnolia tree and break off the fresh green ones to hurl at those beneath us. This is when my memory hits “freeze frame.” We heard a noise — a sort of yelling sound — coming from the farm house. Unless our eyes deceived us, here came this saintly ol’ matronly country lady … RUNNING & YELLING … her cane hoisted in the air above her head … I don’t even remember climbing down out of the tree. I do remember going back into her house, later, to find her once again in the usual position: Sitting in her rocker in the kitchen, with a pleasant smile on her face that beamed the love that she had for her gathered family …

She never mentioned us climbing up into that Magnolia … and, though I can’t speak for every boy but, I think it’s safe to say that we all got a good talking-to on the way home to our respective houses.

(To this day I’ve never climbed another Magnolia tree.)

There was another tree — this one an Oak — that grew on a piece of property between my parents house and our neighbor’s. The patch of woods — no bigger than a “lot” but a virtual enchanted forest when you’re a young boy — was our daily getaway.

My neighbor, Doug, and I would climb up into that oak tree every day (or so it seemed). And each year we managed to climb higher and higher … every now and then we’d nail a 2X4 or 1X6 plank in place to mark the latest altitude conquest. It was OUR TREE. No one else was invited. We both had brothers but, being younger, they were ground dwellers. Only Doug and I ascended the towering heights of the Great Oak in the enchanted wood.

That is, until my Dad called. Now, you see, my Mom may have already stepped outside to call me to dinner several times … but, like the snooze on the alarm clock, I knew it wasn’t REALLY time to get home till the sound of the booming, threatening voice of my Dad.

That’s when I sometimes had to turn into a superhero. It’s a long story — embarrassing, and you wouldn’t believe it anyway — but, suffice it to say …

Listen to the whole thing HERE.

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