The photo below is from Morguefile.com.
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Making a Difference
Charly (short for Charlotte) had known Joshua for six years. He had become like an Uncle to her.
She happened upon his small homestead when she was six. One, of many times, she ignored her parents’ warnings to stay on the paths and within range of a ‘holler”.
Joshua was a grizzly old fellow who wasn’t very happy to receive visitors, at first, but the precocious child had him chuckling before their first encounter ended. He wasn’t actually as old as he appeared to the child but, at fifty-five, his unkempt greying beard and hair made him ‘an ancient’ in her eyes.
Their visits became precious to them both. Charly was an only child and Joshua hadn’t understood his own loneliness until his anticipation of those visits became his greatest joy.
What each of them learned from one another, these last six years, would have made a heartwarming novel.
Charly learned to ‘see’ the woods. Joshua taught her about all the signs and sounds that most untrained eyes, and ears, would completely miss. Charly asked one question after the other earning the pet name “Charly Chatterbox” from her mentor. Joshua was given the gift of wonder from Charly. As he explained Nature, and even his life, Charly’s questions opened him up to new ‘meaning’ inspired by her endless, “Whys?”.
Today was Charly’s 12th birthday and spending part of it with her dear friend was a must. The new snow made her trek a slow one. But as she moved, she could now ‘read’ the woods. A mound of turkey feathers held a story. It was a new kill. The progression of scattering and consumption was small. Blood spatter made it the evident ‘kill sight’. The footprints indicated the predator had been a bobcat but there was also evidence of an opportunist in the form of fox prints. She suspected the cat was a female because it appeared that she abandoned the kill too soon. Joshua told her that the mother often tears off food to bring to her kittens first, then returns. Charly eyed the wide perimeter beyond the kill.
“Yep, there’s the Mama in the pines. Don’t worry lady, I won’t take any.”
Then she moved along to Joshua’s cabin.
He was there sitting beside a fire with a smirk on his face.
“Happy Birthday Charly Chatterbox!”
She sat down beside him. Then he gently opened her a hand to place a hand-carved wooden charm, a perfect likeness of his cabin, in her palm. As she fingered it, tears ran down her face.
“This is beautiful! I’ll treasure it always.”
Then she wrapped her arms around the man almost tipping him over.
Next, Charly cleared her throat and told Joshua that she wouldn’t be visiting as often, soon.
Her Mom and Dad were sending her to a boarding school for ‘refinement’.
Joshua only nodded because he knew this day would come.
Charly visited when she could on school vacations then went to college keeping ‘in touch’ with Joshua through letters. He never wrote back but that was okay. She knew he wouldn’t.
Today, sitting in her CSI office as a lead investigator, she fondled the wooden charm that she still wore, around her neck, on a leather cord.
“Joshua, I’m going to need your help on this one.” Then she kissed the charm and returned to carefully examining the crime scene clues, laid out before her, just like she had learned when she was taught to ‘see’ in the woods.