A few weeks ago, I was looking around on Amazon and saw a cool fort. “Four-year olds like forts,” I thought, but before purchasing I gave my daughter a quick call. With some hesitation she said, “Sure. He loves forts.” Pause. “But we have several fort-type things. Why don’t you pick out some books. He always loves the books you send.”
“I can do books!” I felt so relieved. I have quite a few grandchildren in many stages of growing up and I’m not much of a shopper. But books are my love. I was so happy that I didn’t have to keep searching for the “right gift.”
We had a book fair at school just before the school closed on March 13. I bought a stack of books I thought he would enjoy.
These are the books that were in the stack:
The Old Truck isn’t really for four-year olds, except that my grandson loves vehicles of any kind. So I bought it.
I’m hoping that someday he’ll know me better because of Bear Came Along. I adore the story, the illustrations, and all the implications about identity and community.
He loves funny books; hence, the Jack books and Monkey & Cake.
Where’s Waldo was pure nostalgia of hours with my own children on the couch searching for Waldo.
Google Duo has been a lifeline, especially this past week of being home and feeling a bit alone. Today, I got to share as my grandson opened his birthday present with his mom and got to hear my daughter read to her son. Happy doesn’t begin to describe all the feelings of that moment.
We often blame the weather for the various shapes, sizes, angles, and health of trees. As I walked through the woods at River Bend today, I wondered if there was something more than weather to explain why trees so near each other grow in such different ways.
Why are some so straight and tall while others seem to have struggled, twisting, almost writhing toward the sky? How do some trees thrive with their roots exposed? Some seem to require so little to survive from just a crack in the rock.
Today I saw trees, broken and decaying. Today I saw trees, choked by heavy vines. Today I saw trees with cancerous growths. Today I saw trees persisting, living, growing. All beautiful. In every stage of life. No matter the weather.
As I went on my walk today, I started to think about how quickly things can change and how quickly my feelings can change. Two days ago, I walked the same sidewalks and turned the same corners. Two days ago, I saw beauty and my spirits were lifted. Two days ago, I was able to get out of my head and could enjoy the sensory wonders around me. That didn’t happen today, even though I tried.
Instead, I started thinking about the word “wonder.” Here’s what the dictionary says:
My sense of wonder two days ago was very different from the wonderings of today. The world is full of wonders. But today, those wonders are clouded by my wondering.
Like everyone, I’m wondering, “How long?”
“How can I help?”
“Are the families of my students okay?”
“Is my daughter safe in Utah where there was an earthquake today?” (5.7!)
“What if. . .”
And “what if. . .”
When wonder becomes worry, it’s time to just stop.
After work when it’s cold, my retired husband often greets me, “Wanna watch a movie?” Most school nights I say, “Not tonight,” and he understands. The two evening hours pass quickly with dinner, dishes, and preparations for the next day of work.
Now, when the weather is warmer, the question is, “Wanna play ping-pong?” Today was a beautiful day. Since we were both home, I said, “Sure.” I was working on a knitting project and Steve was working on taxes, so we agreed to play at 5:00.
5:00. I hear him coming up the stairs. He got the paddles and a ball. I wondered, “Will this be the day?” We slide open the doors to the back porch where we play on a blue outdoor ping-pong table. But here’s the deal: I have never won. Not once.
Today, we were neck-and-neck up until the score was 14-14. “Haha!” I thought, “Here’s my chance! I’m going to do it today!” Soon it was 17-18; then 18-19; then 18-20. It was so close! I started to plan my text message to the kids to tell them that Dad’s 45-year streak was over.
My game has improved. At least now I can see the top spin on the ball and I have learned to watch for his off-speed returns and high lobs. But the man has some kind of magic.
I’m as guilty as most about relying on text messages and email to communicate with friends and family. I say “guilty,” but why should there be guilt? I guess it’s the current way of communicating. However, it felt so good to get a piece of “real mail” today.
My almost nine-year old grandson sent me a letter. It made me really happy that he thought of me, and I could see the twinkle in his eye as he gently reminded me that his birthday is coming!
Ben’s letter has inspired me to write some old-fashioned letters while I’m at home “social distancing.” Perhaps someone else would like to get “real mail” that doesn’t come from Amazon.
I step outside with about an hour of daylight to spare. The chill in the air reminds me that winter still has a few days left until it’s officially spring. Map My Walk tells me that I haven’t recorded a walk in a year. I’m okay with that. There have been reasons, but today, I start again.
I head down Cottage Street and am aware that my shoulders are tight, my neck is stiff, and my legs don’t want to move very fast. “That’s okay,” I assure myself. Baby steps.
I walk about a half mile before turning right onto Tapawingo. I like that name and think I should try to find out its story. Maybe another day. As I walk down this street, I see my long shadow and realize it has been a long time since I noticed my shadow. I recognize that my senses are awakening.
I hear so many birdsongs and wish I could identify the birds making them. Without seeing them, I don’t know them. A group of six robins hop around on the grass nearby. But they aren’t the ones singing the evensong.
I hear basketballs bouncing and see a trio of 5th or 6th grade girls headed to the playground. That cheers me. I hope more children will get outside and rediscover play and nature while out of school.
I smell dinners cooking. Someone is grilling tonight. Yum. My mouth waters thinking of steak. I amble on and step aside as a couple passes by. They also step aside. We keep a safe distance with a brief hello.
I smell daffodils and hyacinths, and the pungent scent of freshly spread mulch. And then, the strong, clean smell of someone’s dryer vent drying laundry.
The sights are beautiful:
I love the contrasts I see here:
The spring beauties have closed for the day.
The blues and grays of evening’s approach soften everything around.
When I turn right from Park Street onto Kingsley, I see a flower and hear my father singing:
Little purple pansies touched with yellow gold, Growing in the corner of the garden old, They are very tiny, but must try, try, try, Just one spot to gladden you or I.
I smile as I remember how I loved it when he sang. He had a song for nearly every occasion, and if he didn’t, he made one up. (The forced rhyme and incorrect grammar of this lyric didn’t bother me as a child, but I cringe a little bit now.)
I touch the pine needles and arborvitae and feel the ground under my feet as I notice the calm in my body. I see beauty in new spring growth and in winter’s debris.
My “sensory walk” is a reminder that it is through the body we experience joy. It is through re-entering awareness of all our senses that we can be truly present. It’s amazing how calming and grounding it can be to just get outside, and I’m grateful.
When I began writing on this blog seven years ago, I had no idea what impact writing would have in my life. I had always enjoyed writing, but I had never made any of my writing public. The first few years every blog post began with the day’s date. I found titles intimidating and was reluctant to commit to a title.
After a few years of doing the SOL challenge, I decided that I needed to take a step forward and began to title my pieces. It was hard at first, but then I began to enjoy the process.
But this month, or at least today, it seems like the date is again the best choice to document this strange season. Right now, I’m feeling pretty paralyzed with anxiety and my mind is going a million directions without the structure of Saturday chores before Sunday church before Monday work. When entrenched habits are not possible, what new habits need to be created?
I look at my overflowing bookshelves and can’t decide what I might be able to read with any concentration. I look at all my knitting and sewing projects that need finishing. Then I think I really should be cooking, but how much soup or stew can two people eat? I eat a few more M&Ms. And then I think that I really should be thinking of how I can serve my neighbors and friends. Social media just makes the burden of “should” worse.
Is anyone else finding it hard to think of small moments that don’t involve empty shelves at the grocery store?