Sunday, April 30, 2017

Cardboard binoculars

They stood at the window, looking at me through their cardboard binoculars. I laughed as I escaped their view. A sweet vision in the rearview mirror.

Dad knew all the birds and their sounds. He could reply to any bird answering their call gliding on the air. The whistle of a robin. The trill of a sparrow. The call of a mockingbird. It was difficult to tell the difference in the sounds between my father and the feathered friend. Perhaps I could call them two birds of a feather. They were indeed nature in song.

Whenever Dad saw a bird, he would immediately point it out. We would watch the bird until it flew away. I would get a lesson on the type of bird, its nest and other characteristics. He would call to the red-winged blackbird as soon as I spotted one. I delighted each time it answered back.

The preschoolers along with their parents hiked through the Cooper Mountain Nature Park. The trails meander over the mountain and through the woods. The warning signs about mountain lions were not alarming. Rarely would one come so close to town. When the children finished their field trip, they became Junior Rangers. Each child made a vest out of a paper grocery sack decorated with feathers and other pieces of nature. They made binoculars out of paper towel rolls. This preschool based on learning about our environment had done its job. In fact their mom informed me that they use the binoculars outside to look at birds then look them up in the bird book. A little imagination goes a long way in learning.

For my grandchildren and all the children in the world, we need to do what we can to preserve the environment for these birds. We just returned from a trek through our forests seeing all of the clear cuts. Forests chopped down. Barren hills. Mud slides. Nature turned upside down. It happens in all parts of the world. I want better for my family.

 Four little eyes spied on me as I drove away from their house. Little pieces of cardboard and a child's imagination. Children believing that they can see clearly. I will do my best to be sure they always do even through cardboard binoculars.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Happy toe wiggling

Anticipation began to build. It was spring. The Easter mark had passed, and Mother's Day would be next. My feet were aching to be free.

Spring was always special on the farm. Sheep were sheared. Lambs born. Chickens embraced the weather, clucking with more gusto than usual, and the cows seemed to moo at just about anything. Spring was a time of preparation. As with the creatures in our backyard, Dad was busy in the barn getting his equipment field-ready and plowing the garden. Mom had emptied the freezer and canned goodies in the fruit room, filling her daughters with the end of the year remains. She was making room for the new season of food. We prepared for the bounty of our land with the labor of our hands.

So all was well at home, but at school we wiggled in our seats each time the sun came out. Teachers fought a good fight, trying to keep our attention away from those wonderful, big windows in Franklin School. We dashed to the monkey bars and waited for a turn on the swings. Balls and bats littered the field and jump ropes spun around and around. Summer was around the corner.

For the seniors, we anticipated freedom at last. We began to see the present in that rear view mirror.  It was then we realized the leaving. Boys would be going to war and girls to work. Some would go to college, and some would serve humanity. The going was becoming bittersweet. Spring. A time of growing up.

I remember the summer kitchen airing out in preparation for the summer baking and canning activity. I always hoped that mice who wintered there might go to their summer retreats far from the house. It was a time of removing the feather downs and flannel sheets. A time Sunday drives and visiting friends.

There were more trips down the lane to the bridge. More time visiting neighbors who sat outside, waiting for a little girl to pass by. The kids on Neff Road got off the bus at the corner of Byreley and Neff Roads. No longer did we ride that long trip home. Instead we skipped, hopped and meandered our way down the road.

My feet ached to feel that summer grass between my toes. I wanted to get started on toughening them up for the gravel I would one day race across. The freedom of my toes signaled the freedom from school.  And, now, my toes still ache. They ache for the grass back the lane, the lambs in the pasture, Brenda and I sitting on the gate, watching the world pass by and most of all, for those lovely days of childhood. Toe wiggling at its best.