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Some Kids I Have Known
Jeremy and the Nut Tree

Jeremy squatted down to tie his shoe. The laces were frayed on the end because they were too long for his shoes and were continually coming untied. While he worked at swinging them around this way and that so he could get a knot that wouldn't come untied his eye was caught by a nut on the ground beside him. As soon as he was satisfied the shoe laces would hold, the boy reached over to pick up the pecan. It was large. In fact, the whole inside of his hand was almost covered from the size of it. Of course, Jeremy wasn't very big so that was understandable. This was often a problem for him, too. It seemed he was continually having to find ways to divert some bully with his use of mind games to distract their thinking away from any violence toward him. Size gave him a disadvantage in these circumstances.

Jeremy walked up the long heavy step toward the double wide doors. The classroom was already filling up with kids. His coat he hung on the hooks to the right side of the large entry way hall. Still, he kept the large nut in his fist. While he slid across the seat of the rather large, old desk, he was busily putting his books away in the cubby hole space under the top of it. Once there had been inkwells to the right and at the top of the desk, but now no one ever used pen and ink. All work was done with pencils. Even penmanship allowed the use of a sharp lead pencil. His desk still had the metal holder where the ink bottle should have been so that it wouldn't fall through to the inside of the desk. Jeremy took the large pecan and placed it in the small round metal part that was the bottom of the ink stand. During the morning one after another would walk by his desk and turn to look down at the pecan made obvious by its position in the ink well. It was a strange thing to see. That little nut was decidedly out of its place. Somehow and ink well shouldn't be holding a pecan. Nevertheless, this was quaintly interesting.

Sometime before lunch he took the pecan up to his teacher's desk and quietly handed it to her. She knew Jeremy came from a poor family and probably couldn't even afford to give her something as unattainable as an extra apple from their own pantry. The attractive, young woman smiled sweetly to the boy and mouthed a quiet “thank you.”

Every day after that Jeremy gifted his teacher with the same pecan from the tall tree standing not too, far from the front door of the building. Finally, the season for pecans was over and the huge, luscious nuts were becoming more difficult to find. Jeremy searched the ground after school until he found the biggest nut possible and took it home with him. As he worked on his homework a piece of sandpaper from his father's tool shed was on the desk beside his school papers. When he tired of doing math or English or science, he would turn his attention to the nut and his sandpaper. Gradually the pecan began to take on a different appearance. The sanding of it made the wood become delicately as smooth as any fine piece of furniture. The boy then began to rub the pecan with his bare fingers. Slowly but surely the wood took on even a greater glow. An old wooden, toy block, with the initial J was to become the pedestal for the now elegant and refined little nut. He glued it on with school glue so that it was permanently attached. For the evening he placed it beside one like it which was an identical finished token his own grandfather had made for him before he died.

“There are no more nuts on the tree but I saved this last one for you,”

Jeremy told his teacher. Again the teacher smiled to the boy. She placed the tiny piece of artwork directly at the top of her desk towards the middle so that any, who came before her, would see it. Hardly any words had been exchanged about the boy's pecans while he was working to a goal though some did turn their head to one side and wonder what all was involved. They knew there was a significance to this. No one but the gentle, young instructor seemed to understand and appreciate.

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