Fall Festival and the PoetTree

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A few times a year our Sunday meetings include a lot more movement, laughter, songs, and sharing than usual. November 11th was one of those times, as together we focused on autumn, family, and gratitude. Thanks to Mary Beth Sodus for decorations and her words to set the tone of the meeting, as well as her reading of a lovely poem by Mary Oliver and brainstorming ideas with me about what to include and when. Thanks to Hugh Taft-Morales for presiding as well as leading two songs. And thanks to everyone who contributed salad ingredients and their voices for a fun interactive version of our modified Stone Soup story. Together we put together three overflowing bowls of “stone salad”, which we then ate along with side dishes, soups, and desserts contributed by those attending.

One new activity in this year’s Fall Festival was our creation of a PoetTree. When we first decided to participate in the Baltimore Book Festival in 1999, I wanted to provide an activity to draw families to our booth to hear about BES. I came up with a modified version of an activity I’d used in classrooms and the PoetTree was born. We discovered that adults enjoyed creating leaves for the PoetTree as much as young people did, and it became a staple at our Book Festival booth for many years. Member Gordon Stills added another dimension one year when he began to ask the contributors (especially the young ones) to read their poem outload before placing it on the tree, and if they did not want to read it then he would. Gordon has a wonderful voice (something I have often been grateful to listen to over the years), and it was a treat to be present during the times he volunteered.

For those who were not present for the Festival, here are some of the poems that adorned our tree:

Fall/ Collecting maple syrup/ pancakes/ campfire/ warming up.

Crisp winds blow again/Rustling the crimson leaves/Release from the trees.

During these times of trouble and upheavals/ Make your actions & words/ Ring out strong/ for reason in this season/ must win out.

Fall walks in the forest/ crispering leaves/ mulching under our feet/ to feed the/ next spring.

Humans are currently the only invasive species./ In wilderness lies our salvation.

Grateful/ for Grandchildren/ Wonderful Family/ Leaves are Falling/ Children are Growing/ Watch the Seasons Change/ Embrace Each New Season.

Amid the stones/ of the Soldiers’ cemetery/ Edelweiss.

All morning planning what/ to cook in the evening/ all afternoon thinking about the/ people waiting and/ spending their afternoons thinking/ about us, thinking about them/ all evening together, in the/ short time we have/ short, to share with/ one/ another.

Hope/ is alive/ and spreading/ spreading slowly/ through the land. /The tipping point will/ be reached soon & then/ hope will flourish.

Fall,/ Falling,/ Fallen we/ found them./ Gathered them up in our hands/ and in our hearts, memories/ of those we have loved/ more beautiful than the/ rainbow of color we/ gather too on our lawn/ into piles of leaves.

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