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The Horse Chestnut

buds, leaves, tree, life and days

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THE HORSE CHESTNUT.

What boy does not know the I lorse Chestnut tree and club it in the fall, keeping an eye peeled meanwhile for the irate owner? What do boys want Horse Chestnuts fin.. anyhow? They are not good to eat.— lmt they are excellent to carry in a fellow's pocket until they get brown and shiny. Their only use is to plague grown for every boy likes to tie a Horse Chestnut at each end of a string about three feet long. catch hold of the string by the middle, make the Horse Chestnuts go up and down at a bewildering rate, and finally shout them upwards to catch on telegraph wires, where they make a hopeless snarl of dangling strings to bother tidy folks.

But everybody knows all yon will say. Nevertheless. I have not it always, for my was spent on the prairies where I never saw a Horse Chestnut tree at all. So when I came to live where Horse Chestnuts grow, 1 did not realize the real meaning of the tree to children. I wrote a sober, scientific account of all its parts, Nv ithout a spark of life in it—but I threw it away. 1 know not that there is something better than the botany of the Horse Chestnut tree, and that is the poet ry of it. Head this letter from a lady NOW has been an invalid ever since she was eleven years old: one who yearns for the outdoor life of the country, but who spends all her days in a big noisy city, where even robins are rare nei,o•hbors, and the vision of a bluebird is a memory to be cherished through the long. dreary, winter months. I cannot tell you how :.Aweet this is and Ivhy it brings the tears. lkit the meaning of it is, that there is poetry and beauty all around us in every thing, and we, who have had health and eves, have not seen it. Let us wake up and look about us and get the most out of life every day that we live! Happiest are they who eau still ]Dole out Nature with the eyes of childhood! Here is the letter: " Aly horse chestnut trees were five in number. Two were close to my win do•s and made a screen for my narrow balcony where I read and worked and rested when unable to do anything. These two were tall and symmetrical until mercilessly pruned. Even then they hastened to conceal their wounds. The

outer of three trees was lower, and from my bed I looked into a green chapel and saw nothing of the street. The houses across the street seemed far away and mnlisturbing.

" In February come the bright clear days when my reason tells me that it is not spring yet, that there are weeks more of winter; lint else tells me that a change has come, and that the rest of the winter really does not mat ter. Then do the buds of my horse begin to glimmer and glisten. They seem to gather and hold the light. Aly windows faced the west, and all the long afternoons 1 knew that the buds were at least dreaming and moving in their sleep just a little. Often for weeks they made no progress, and I dered if I had not been mistaken after all. Then, when the first, warm days come, the buds swell with wonderful rapidity, and the protecting brown scales part and show the downy linings. The baby leaves are so beautifully protected: " When the scales drop and the young leaves first begin to appear they are very light in color, a soft silvery effect, and they look like irregular fluffy balls. About this time, Clara and J always used to choose a particular bud, and tell each other when we expected to see the first tent. (The young leaves make the most perfect and extptisite tents just after they change the upright position, and before they spread out like a hand with lingers extended.) To go back to the chosen buds. _.1t, that stage they develop so rapidly that they require much watching to be sure which really does become a tent first—so many are changing constantly. Sot ti ne...mes the opening buds become tents in a few hours, if there is wind with bright sunshine, and then the dear old trees are enchanted, one watches them with awe and wonder and delight. I always feel that the dryads are a living presence at that time. They only stay a day or two or less, because the tents expand and hasten to become full grown leaves. It is a con stant surprise to me how quickly they do become large and strong and dark and rich in color.

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