Bare Branches

Military Spouse Writer and Mother shares a moment with her military child.

 Written by Jessica Fountain | Photography by Ryan Swoboda

The boy looks up at the trees pointing to one with bare twigs, “that tree is dead, right mama?” She follows his finger and finds the misfit with naked limbs. It is hidden by the other trees that are still lush, their leaves painted in red and gold.

She stops raking leaves and studies her son. “No little bear, the tree isn’t dead.” Her son looks at her with curious brown eyes and a quizzical facial expression. “You see, we’re in the season of autumn, and the leaves will all eventually change colors and fall off.”

Kneeling down to his level she asks, “Do you know what comes after fall?” She patiently waits, watching the gears turn in his head, his black sneakers stomping the leaves beneath his feet. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

“Christmas!” he shouts. She laughs and uses the rake to help her stand.

“Yes, Christmas is coming. So, I guess that means it’s going to be winter soon, right?”  He nods eagerly, taking this win and new momentum to run through the piled leaves.

She returns to the methodical and rhythmic raking. The rustle of leaves is soothing as she inhales the musky smell of the earth.  

Within seconds, he returns to her side bustling and humming with another question. “Do all trees die in the winter?” 

She shakes her head, marveling at his pure sense of wonder of the world. “No son, some leaves simply arrive for a season. They will wilt and die, but always the tree remains.” 

She pauses, seeing his head tilt and his eyes narrow. “The tree may not look alive during the winter because you cannot see its green leaves. This is the time for the tree to rest, protect herself from the cold freeze, and shed the weight she no longer needs to carry on her branches. Come spring life will bloom.” 

Her son gathers the weathered leaves from the ground, scooping and launching them into the air to watch them cascade down. Earnestly she thinks, just because the tree does not look alive right now, does not mean she isn’t growing. 

Curious no longer, the boy rushes into the house to grab a snack. The mother walks over and places her smooth palm against the raised bark of the tree, tracing the lines deeply engraved into its trunk.

There are parts of you that have perished and there are parts of you waiting to begin anew. 

She walks back towards the house, a coy smile dancing on her lips. The mother was never talking about the tree. 

Words by Jessica Fountain @Warmly_Jessieann

Photography by Ryan Swoboda

Author Behind the Legacy Essay

Jessica Fountain is a writer, mama to two, and a military spouse. She is the Marketing Director for Legacy Magazine and firmly believes that every life has a story and when told invites others in for a deeper sense of belonging. Writing for her is self discovery, a stirring, a place for creative freedom. In her spare time she loves to read, sip iced coffees, go for long leisurely walks, devour risotto, and delight in lazy summer hammock days. You can find her sharing snippets of her writing and life on her Instagram @warmly_jessieann

This piece was originally crafted in The Work of Words writing workshop. Within the course you'll discover how to string words together with creativity and discernment in a creative non-fiction framework.

The next session takes place this Fall|Winter 2022. To be the first to know of the upcoming workshop and learn more of the details, click here to join our waitlist. 

Turning the Page 

A lifestyle shaped by the military is inherently ever-changing. From the outside looking in, this is sometimes viewed as a nuisance or burden. And sometimes, we ourselves can see it in this light. But what if we realized that we have a greater hope that allows us to choose otherwise? 

Sometimes our lifestyle presents challenges, but that doesn’t mean we should remain hopeless. Continue Reading "Freedom to Flourish Anywhere" Here. 

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