On our way to brunch on Christmas Eve, my friend Melissa and I walked past a stretch of grass littered with the seed pods of a sweet gum tree. I remarked that I really like the Sweet Gum trees–they have fantastic fall color–but that the spikey seed pods balls were a problem. I had considered, at some point, spray painting them shiny metallic colors to use as Christmas ornaments, but we both agreed that sounded suspiciously like work. We concluded that the seed balls are only good for children to throw at each other and everyone else to roll their ankles on.
This point was driven home to me today as I scurried across a parking lot surrounded by sweet gum trees. I stepped on one of the spikey brown balls, rolled my ankle, and went down like 250 lbs of human flesh in a Shadoan-shaped skin sack. Which is to say, hard. I may have shouted a curse: mostly I recall the sting of a skinned knee and the clang of my water bottle against the pavement.
I have previously hypothesized that children cry when they fall down not so much because it hurts, but because they feel shocked and betrayed by gravity, their bodies, and the universe at large. I certainly felt shocked and betrayed as I tried to gather my wits and inspect my smarting ankle.
A nearby woman had seen me go down, and rushed to my aide.
“Do you need help?” she offered.
“I think I’m all right,” I answered, still blinking back bewildered tears and poking at my ankle.
“Do you need a snack? I’m in charge of snacks, I can bring you any snack you need!”
I declined her kind offer, and once she was convinced that I could get to my feet and walk, we parted ways. I limped off to yoga and she, presumably, went off to bestow snacks on someone else. She did not mention which entity she was in charge of snacks for.
Had I been slightly less befuddled by surprise and pain, I would probably have accepted her snack offer. Snacks are great! I love snacks!
When I relayed this story on Twitter, Melissa remarked, “this sounds like a dream where you meet a good fairy.” Surely, this is the correct interpretation–my fall was witnessed by the Good Snack Fairy, who offered to soothe me with the skills she had at hand: snacks.
Portland is full of people like the Good Snack Fairy, who rush to my aid when I am obviously distressed. This is quite different from my prior experiences. Once, while biking home to Oklahoma City from Norman, my tire hit an unexpectedly mossy puddle and I wiped out spectacularly. One minute I was zipping along, thinking, “Huh, I wonder what temperature the water from this puddle will be when it hits my legs,” and the next I was on the pavement with the bike on top of me, feeling once again dazed and betrayed. I remember staring up at enormous bowl of blue sky and wondering if anyone was going to stop and check on me.
Then a pickup truck passed, splashing me with the water from the unexpectedly mossy puddle, and I concluded that I should not wait to find out.
It’s nice to live in a place where people help me when I need help. I hope that in your hour of need, the Good Snack Fairy finds you, too!