Exuberance. That’s the word that came to mind as I smilingly watched the Honor Society Volunteers rake our yard the other day. High school teens—about 8 of them, arrived in their various teen-mobiles, dressed warmly for the chill day, armed with rakes and tarps, blowers and yes, snacks and drinks to fortify the effort. Soon the sounds of raking and leaf-blowing filled the air, but what was more pronounced was unabashed laughter and enthusiasm. Rakes swung, leaves flew, piles grew and laughter seemed to fuel them. I watched discretely from various windows now and then, and found myself smiling ear-to-ear just listening to them. What joy they exuded! It can’t be a particularly joyful pursuit, raking some old couple’s leaves, but there was nothing half-hearted about them. No. On the contrary, even after two hours of rake-flying action, they were still laughing, racing to the woods with leaf-loaded tarps, dumping the load only to stride back up the hill with purpose—unlike the huff-puff plod that is apt to be my style!
And chatter. I couldn’t hear their conversations of course, but their voices over the scrape of rakes and whir of blowers, a sound bright and alive, sentences punctuated by the swing of the rake or raucous guffaws. It lifted my spirits just observing. Papa Hare noticed too. Mentioned how happy they all seemed and sounded. We asked one another, what happens to us as the years roll by; why do we lose that youthful exuberance? The answer is as varied as our life-experience, I’m sure, but the message was loud and clear: Exuberance brings energy to the task, and cheer to the observer.
“Each must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7 Sobering. I must find my exuberance again, if for nothing else, to honor the One who so cheerfully, mercifully, faithfully does so much for me.
Young Bret is an exuberant sort too, tirelessly working as apprentice to Sir Fivel in the furniture making business—and mind you, business has been good of late with all of the little woodland creatures preparing their homes for the long winter days ahead. It’ll soon slow down though. Already, the days for gathering and storing are nearly past. The storms haven’t started yet, but the cold has arrived, and many are already gathered, early each evening, around their woodstoves, napping on handcrafted sofas, sipping mulled acorn-cider at beautifully appointed tables.
At the end of the work day, Bret rushes home to work on his own projects, outfitting his and Betina’s home-to-be in fond anticipation of the day when they will be together for always. Sir Fivel has helped too, showing Bret how to frame in a living area with repurposed wood—popsicle sticks being the all-time fave, since, gnawed in half, they are already portable enough to carry without undue effort or reworking. They gnawed and fitted, carefully saving small pieces for other projects, or as fire-starters for the stove, and then carefully sanded and polished all the edges, especially the floors. Nothing worse than splinters on a cold winter morning!
So the living space is all framed and insulated, a small pantry shelved and ready, and a separate sleeping and bath area at one end is in the works. Bret has a bed, a small table with two chairs all done, and he’s currently working feverishly to complete a bureau—those drawers are surely a challenge though!
Meanwhile, Betina, now adept at needlework, thanks to a talented and patient mother, has accrued quite a pile of household items that will surely make their lives more comfortable. She’s already provided her betrothed with a warm quilt, a pillow and bed-puff (mattress) stuffed with milk-thistle-fluff, and flannel sheets—the envy of every mouseling! She got it from the Underground Channel—an innovative group that work together to find and repurpose all kinds of useful things. A stash is brought in daily, down to the underground warehouse, where it’s cleaned and sorted. Things are available there for barter—goods or services, so Betina offered her services as laundress, every other Saturday for three months, in exchange for several large pieces of soft flannel. She made a set of sheets and pillowslips, and has enough left over for tiny diapers someday. Well, a girl has to plan you know!
So now, in my exuberance for all these stories, I’ve neglected the laundry pile. Oh dear! I do hope I can be a cheerful doer today.