Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time there was a tree, T-R-E-E tree; The tree was in the ground, and the green grass grew around, around, around, and the green grass grew around…

My great aunt Peanie always sang this song to me every night before bedtime, and I continued to sing it to our own children. It’s one of those songs with many variations, and if you’re familiar with it, your version is likely to be slightly different. It went on and on as features about the tree are sung about and repeated…

…and in this tree there was a limb, L-I-M-B limb, the tree was in the ground, and the green grass grew around….continuing with twig, nest, egg (this three-letter word was always an awkward one to spell out within the rhythm of the song), yolk, bird, fuzz, flea (I always wondered how a flea could get inside of the egg).

It finally concluded in one great cavalcade of treedom: the flea was on the fuzz, the fuzz was on the bird, the bird was in the yolk, the yolk was in the egg, the egg was in the nest, the nest was on the twig, the twig was on the limb, the limb was on the tree, the tree was in the ground, and the green grass grew around, around, around, and the green grass grew around. If I wasn’t asleep by the end of the song, Peanie would extend it extemporaneously. That’s the part I liked best because it didn’t rhyme, and within the tune she made up ideas about what might happen tomorrow, including a blessing for sleep.

Once upon a time I was a child, and those surrounding me nurtured my growth and strengthened my roots. Here I stand today, like a tree full of strength, joy and love because of my family, friends and faith.

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