A tree falls at Camp Fletcher

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From Camp Fletcher Management to whoever is sending us leafmail: We found your latest message, and we are not amused. You think you’re so clever, but you can’t fool us. Twinkle Loblolly is obviously not your real name.  We Googled “Twinkle Loblolly,” and we couldn’t find anyone with that name in the whole wide world.  Besides, everyone knows that magical creatures like elves are not real.  There’s no such thing as a camp elf or any other kind of elf, for that matter—so stop pretending that you exist.  We do admit we still don’t know how you can put so many words onto the single leaf—an oak leaf this time—that was waiting for us outside the camp office this morning.  Thanks for weighing that leaf down with chocolate kisses, though. They were yummy. No matter how many chocolates and jelly beans you bribe us with, we will not rest until we find out who you really are, Mr. Loblolly.  To aid us in our quest we are once again publishing your message in hopes that someone can give us a clue that will unmask your true identity.

Hi, it’s Twinkle again.

I’m so glad that March is finally here and spring is on the way.  Winter is the loneliest season for a camp elf so I’m glad this one is just about over. Summer is my favorite time at Camp Fletcher, of course, but spring is pretty great here too.  I was born and moved in on the day the camp first opened in 1926, which makes this my 91st spring at Camp Fletcher. So, even though I’m still very young in elf years, I’ve been around long enough to know what seasons I like best.

It looks like this is going to be an early spring and that makes me very happy.  Already some of my tree friends are showing signs of waking. The wildflowers also seem to be several weeks ahead of their normal wake up time this year.  I can tell the trees are getting restless when they start putting out flowers. This makes my bee friends very happy. Another telltale sign that a tree is awake is when you see the first bits of green that aren’t quite leaves peeking out on her branches.  Some of my tree friends are real sleepyheads, though, and they aren’t ready to wake up. The Hickories are one of those families who are notorious for sleeping in late every year. The silly Hickories will snooze away half of spring while everyone else is wide awake and leafy green. My name comes from the most sensible and wide awake of all trees. Loblollys are pines, as everyone knows, and pine trees are always green.

March can be a stormy month, though, and storms can be scary, even for camp elves. Camp elves love the rain of course, but we don’t like lightning and thunder very much—especially when it’s close. And the wind and lightning can be hard on my tree friends. We had a storm come through last week and it knocked over one of the old trees near the archery range. It was a great big loblolly pine—my name tree and home tree. This particular loblolly called himself Nat and he had been my friend for a long time. Nat was already weak because the nasty, wicked, icky pine beetles had been burrowing into him, and then the storm came with a blowing wind that knocked him over.  Nat fell with a cracking sound as loud as thunder, only different.

The camp humans have already cut Nat’s wood into big logs and soon they will take it away so a new tree can grow where he stood for so long.  That’s the way it is with trees.  Trees can live a very long time—longer than humans, a lot of them, but not nearly as long as elves.  No tree lives forever, though. I’m sad Nat is gone, but I won’t be sad for long. He lived a long happy life looking down at the children and shading them as they learned to shoot bows and arrows. Soon another tree will come along to take Nat’s place and lead a long and happy life of her own.

In other news, one of the Camp Fletcher humans (definitely not Management) believes in me and has secretly made an email address for me. If you want to ask me a question or just says hi, I’d love to hear from you. The address is twinkle@campfire-al.org

I’ve got so much more to tell you, but I’ve already filled up both sides of this leaf. Goodbye until next time.

Your friend,

Twinkle Loblolly

Camp Elf

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