by Lonnye Sue Sims Pearson
It was an early August morning in 1990 when the incident first occurred. My daughter Maureen had been home for the weekend from Baptist Rehabilition Center where she was learning to live after a stroke. Mama and Daddy drove into the drive and exited the car; but instead of coming into the house the way they usually did when they came to pick up Mo for the two-hour drive to Memphis, they stopped and stared at an old pecan tree in my back yard.
I watched them from the kitchen window as I called to Maureen to hurry. I wondered why they were staring at the tree, but I had to finish helping Mo get ready.
When I wheeled Maureen out the back door onto the ramp leading to the driveway, my parents were still staring at the pecan tree.
"What are y'all doing?" I asked.
They looked at me, looked at the tree, then back at me. Mama spoke.
"See that little limb there? The one sticking out this way? Watch the leaves."
Maureen and I stared at the five-foot limb to which Mama pointed. The leaves were moving . . . almost as if they were waving.
As we all stared at the one limb among many, Maureen and I noticed that the only leaves moving on the tree were the ones on that particular limb. We all moved closer. The leaves moved frantically.
We tried to find other leaves moving, even looking at other trees. Nothing moved on the massive magnolia. Nothing moved on the towering oak. Nothing moved on the red bud. Nothing moved on the cherry. The only leaves moving anywhere in the back yard were the leaves on that one limb of the old pecan tree.
Daddy laughed; Mama grinned as she raised her eyebrows; Maureen stared in wonder; the leaves waved; and I . . . I said, "Y'all better get going!"
Over the next few weeks, I discovered that the leaves on any pecan tree would wave at me. Always on a still, windless day. I told some people about the phenomenon, but few gave the story credence.
"Oh, it's just Lonnye Sue. She's like that, you know."
I tested each pecan tree that I encountered, and without fail, the tree would wave to me. I could even make the leaves' movement speed up or slow down. If I spoke to the tree, the action accelerated; if I just observed, the movement slowed -- sometimes to a full stop; if I touched the tree, the entire limb would move. The same leaves on the same limb on each tree waved . . . none of the others.
No, there were never any birds or squirrels or frogs or lizzards or mice or any other creature anywhere around when the trees waved. One person suggested some sort of insect; I doubt that theory, though. None of the leaves or limbs died; all produced the same quality of fruit; no webs appeared.
Eventually, I moved from that house and those friendly pecan trees, but when I go home twice a year, I am sorely tempted to stop for one more visit . . . just to see if they recognize me.
Associate editor of USADEEPSOUTH, Lonnye Sue Sims Pearson grew up in the Mississippi Delta, but now calls North Carolina home. She’s an English teacher (one of THOSE), and she loves to share her stories.
Write Lonnye Sue at Deltamiss2002
To read more of Lonnye Sue’s tales at USADS, visit these links:
Fessin’ Up Is Hard To Do
Mamaw And The Night Visitors
Hail To The Chief Drive In Movie
For more, click on the USADEEPSOUTH Articles Page.
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