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From a Country Churchyard

Sunday, May 6, 2007

I'm diggin' Liam's T-ball practice. It is SO beautiful there, in the little dell below the church. The wildflower slope is the one to the right.
Wednesday, the wife of one of the coaches brought a baby Nubian goatlet, one of a set of triplets, who had been rejected by her mother. She was tube-feeding it, and the kid was coming back from near-death. Adorable. She was clearly completely gaga over the baby goat. I stole a kiss on the top of the baby's hard little head. The best thing the woman said was, "If you don't love on 'em, they ain't gonna live. They gotta know they're loved." AMEN. I told her that I'd found that applied to orphaned hummingbirds and chimney swifts, too.
The story from the country churchyard has not yet ended. May 2 was a fine day with high white clouds and slanting sun. There were only two women on the bleachers this evening, and I saw my chance to win converts to the cause of wildflower appreciation. First, I hung out with them and talked teachers, homework and school for awhile.

I've been thinking a lot about what happened last Monday, when I couldn't seem to summon any enthusiasm in my new companions for woods and wild things. I've come to the conclusion that it has much more to do with group dynamics and my own out-of-the-envelope behavior than any willful disregard for nature. Though most people visiting the comments section seem more than willing to give the other T-ball moms the benefit of the doubt, some of the comments that came in have been a bit biting, and that makes me unhappy...makes me feel I've miscommunicated something here. I hope it's clear on careful reading of my posts that I would not dream of looking down on the ones who man the bleachers. I have the greatest respect for moms who are there for their kids, and care enough to take them to sporting events. I have only felt sadness and frustration that they might--through shyness or simply not knowing what they're missing-- not get to experience even a fraction of the joy I feel when I walk in the woods. I burn with the desire to show them what's out there, just a few hundred yards beyond the playing fields. It's a pure, hot flame, and it has nothing to do with looking down my nose at them, or wanting to flaunt my knowledge to them. I just want to give them something of what I feel every day. They're living in paradise--we all are, truly-- and I want them to realize it!

These women are young-- only five or six years out of high school. I'm old enough to be their mother. Maybe I could talk them into a little walk. Slyly, I brought the conversation around to the beautiful weather, and then to all the birds that got in today. I ducked out for a few minutes to listen to my NPR interview on the car radio, something I thought it better to keep quiet about. When I came back, I said I was going to climb the fence again to see the wildflowers, and I made a show of inviting a reticent Phoebe along. She played it well, saying she couldn't do it because she was wearing flip flops.

"OK, then, we'll go on the road. I'd bet we can see just as much from there."
"Oh, I'd rather stay here. I'm tired."
"You're going, kiddo."
Casually, I turned to the other two women.
"Wanna come with us? We're going to see 21 species of wildflower in bloom. It looks like a magic carpet out there."
Shy, hesitant negative head shakes, but this time with smiles.
"I have flip flops on, too."
"That's why we're going on the road! No problem!"
"I should probably stay and watch my son."
"He's in good hands. It's just a practice. This only happens once a year. Greatest show on earth. You can't miss it."

I think I would have slung one over each shoulder if I'd been strong enough. It was an out-of-body experience, talking strangers into walking with me, but I was driven by my little flame.
And they both got up and came along. Phoebe shot me a pair of wide eyes and an incredulous grin. I could hardly believe it, but there they were, glancing back over their shoulders and waving at their kids.

"Mommy's gonna go for a little walk. She'll be right back."

I was pumping my inner fists. I walked ahead of them so they wouldn't see the big ol' grin on my face. Down, Zick!
We walked up a steep hill and hit the road. You could see most of the good stuff right from the road. Whew. I decided to treat it like a nature walk, a field trip, and I pointed out each flower, getting more and more excited as my new friends pointed out bigger and better specimens and commented on the color and form.Wild geranium. Hard to believe this delicate creature is related to the gaudy pot kinds. Oh, oh, oh. Sweet stuff.
Rue anemone, so called because the leaves look like meadow rue. Bladebladebla. I was jabbering. I knew the girls didn't know what meadow rue was but I forged on anyway.

They agreed that it was a lot nicer to walk on this quiet gravel road than on the treadmill. Apparently they'd both been exercising in their basements on treadmills (something I cannot imagine doing when there's a big ol' wonderful world to walk). Then they told me about a point farther up the road where the woods close in over your head and it's always cool even in the middle of summer. They know these roads a lot better than I do, having grown up here. We were talking, and enjoying the flowers and the wood thrush song and the hollow roll of pileated woodpeckers. We were sharing, and we were living.
We got back in time to cheer the kids on at batting practice. Speaking of beautiful...

Breakthroughs--they're nice to have every now and then.
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