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Letters About Literature National Winners 2008

Honorable Mentions, Level 2: Micaela Gerhardt

Dear Sharon Creech,

I sit under the shade of the "singing tree" on the Middle Farm, listening to a lone bird singing high in the tree's branches. No, I am mistaken, the tree itself sings to me, lulling me to sleep. I dream of something I have lost, only to return when the tulips bloom, possibly with Salamanca's mother, who's said to return then too.

Above me, on the tree are two blackberry kisses left by Sal and her mother. I believe that every kiss a parent leaves their children, no matter how long ago will remain like a tattoo. Her mother is gone, but the kiss is left on the tree, forever and always. Just like love, which will reside forever, no matter if the person who loves you is gone. Love is like Sal's and her mother's blackberry kisses.

I'm most like Salamanca Tree Hiddle. I have a hard time letting go. I wish what is sometimes an impossible thing. I love to write and tell stories. I embrace experience. I hurry, hurry, hurry, and listen to the wind. I can be brave. Sometimes I think it could be easier to pray to trees, than to God, who's so much bigger than life.

Occasionally I am Sal's mother, Chanhassen Pickford, and want to run away from my fear or anger. Sometimes I just plain want to disappear on my own secret vacation, and get away from my jam-packed busy life. I am always glad I'm here though, and couldn't leave my family like she did, especially because I felt imperfect among them. We will never achieve perfection, and become "Hiddles," because even Hiddles aren't faultless. We are just who we are. At times I'm Margaret Cadaver, who befriended Sal and her father, stashing my secrets under a rhododendron bush. Now and again I am Phoebe Winterbottom, shyly staring out my window, silently watching. I am cautious and afraid, and imagine crazy things, or exaggerate just a little, "fishing in the air." Sometimes I am Sal's father, vigorously chiseling away at a plaster wall to escape the hard truths we must face. Every once in a while, like him, I seek my fears, instead of hiding from them.

Sharon Creech, your words have taken me on a journey of my own, I travel through life, thinking of the mysterious messages left on my doorstep. These messages are the lessons I've learned deep down rising to the surface, reminding me what's right. They are my conscience.

Often I find myself in someone else's moccasins, walking along the street under the moon, when everyone else is unaware Sometimes my feet tire, and instead of understanding, I find the "potential lunatic" in them. Maybe, I think, we all have a "potential lunatic" inside us. Mysterious and quiet, we crouch beside the buildings, leaving messages for people to find like buried treasure. Maybe we scare the heck out of them. Maybe we connect to them in a strange way.

Even though we are masked and crazy, gentle and scared, we're just human. Imperfect are we, potentially this and that. We are judged by our skin, hair, and clothing. Rarely does anyone try on our moccasins, worn from the journey of life itself. When I wake up, I stare across the field at the fully bloomed tulips; Sal's mother of course, isn't coming back. We don't always find what we've lost, but what / have lost is found. I have lost someone to guide me through life. What I've found is my family, and this book: Walk Two Moons. Huzza, Huzza.

Micaela Gerhardt