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November 15th, 2007

My husband is getting ready for the annual deer hunting season, which means that boxes and bins which have been closed for 12 months are being opened and emptied, and idle corners of the house are filling up with blaze orange clothing.

For a few weeks, orange is the clothing color of choice, if you live in the country and don’t want to be accidentally shot. Hunters wear it, by law and common sense. But the rest of us non-combatants tend to pull on a vest if we are, say, walking a vaguely deer-colored, vaguely deer-shaped, massive dog, down the road.

Our dog doesn’t wear anything, although he does have a collar with flashing LEDs. I will probably turn this on, even during the day, since anyone shooting at a deer with flashing red lights cannot use the “Oops!” defense.

But along with the hunting gear, the DH uncovered a box of sweaters, left over from last year’s church Christmas pageant. I am in charge of the youth group, a small band of marginally cooperative adolescents. This was a co-production with the Sunday school kids, who are cute and little. The majority of the speaking parts went to them, since cute and little are excellent qualifications for these kind of things.

The play also had a group of talking trees. Trees are, by nature, taller than cute little kids.

So are the members of the youth group.

You would think this would be a good fit.

Did I mention that they are teen-agers? Really, I can’t complain, since, when backed into a corner, they performed with a minimum of rebellion. But they lacked the enthusiasm that the Sunday school teachers were hoping for. They encouraged me to have the kids come in and make tree costumes out of painted cardboard.

This idea was received by the youth group with pained silence.

Ten years or so back, when I was in full theater mode, I would have been the woman most likely to be seen pushing a live camel towards the alter at pageant time and handed around the paint brushes. But I was working full time last year, and have lost much of the spark needed for live theatricals.

So I told the other teachers we would be having much more “impressionistic” trees. They had already provided me with an assortment of silk leaves. The DH and I scavenged our house for brown sweaters and leaf and bark camo pants. I added a bag of walnuts, and a stuffed bird for someone’s head.

I can still hear the moan of the girl who ended up with the bird. Apparently, hair crows are not in fashion right now.

I believe it was #2 Son who got the walnuts. At least, I think of him as “kid most likely to duct tape walnuts to himself and appear in public”. He’s a non-conformist.

The play went off without a hitch, meaning it went off with the usual number of hitches you get in a lightly rehearsed kid’s Christmas play. At the climactic moment, when the deciduous trees shed their leaves, I think they did it with a bit too much relief.

(This was to let the pine tree be the prettiest tree in the forest, just in time for him to be chosen as the first Christmas tree. And chopped down and killed. The moral of the story is probably not supposed to be about the advantages to being sullen and cynical, leaf-shedding teen trees, but oh well.)

Afterward, all the costumes were tossed into a bag and forgotten until now. And that is why I have a stale bag of walnuts on my dining room table.

#1 son wants to throw them away.

I want to feed them to squirrels. Actually, I want someone else to feed them to squirrels.

#2 son volunteered. He noticed how nice and round the nuts are, and is looking for a sling shot.

We are going to have to work on the difference between feeding, and assault with a deadly walnut.