I’m Sorry But Thank You!

When Covid-19 shut our schools down suddenly, my heart went out to all the children. One day they were in school – and the next day they weren’t! For most children, school is not only a structure for academics, it is a stable environment for learning social skills and building peer relationships. It’s a comfortable routine and something to do! It’s understandable that during lock-down, kids were driving their parents crazy! They missed their friends and they yearned to be out of the house.

About a month into forced isolation, parents in our neighborhood realized the importance of socialization and independence for their children. A group of young boys started spending hours and hours playing together outdoors.

I live in the city, but in a naturally protected wooded area where trees are thick and creek beds lie in wait to be explored. Normally, the creek is easily accessible only in a few places. After months of intervention by these industrious boys, however, we now have an entire network of arteries that lead through the woods and down to the water!

We have ropes tied to trees so you can swing out into the water; we have deep, narrow holes along the creek bank to hold fishing poles; we have hills cleared of debris for sliding and rolling down; and we have remnants of often-used toys, shovels, and buckets.

All summer long I wanted to survey this maze of new paths, but there was always an “adventure builder” or two occupying the area and staking claim to the result of their hard work.

Our schools re-opened several weeks ago. Some children have resumed in-class learning while others are on-line students, but they all have a routine during the week which no longer allows for outdoor play. I could finally search that special realm they created!

Now, when I take my daily walk I don’t stay on the paved paths. No! I duck into every little passageway I come across. I am amazed at all the channels they forged through the trees and brush during a time when they struggled for something to do. To them I’d like to say I’m sorry for your covid-filled months of childhood interrupted but thank you for combating your boredom by conceiving and shaping the little-boy world I now enjoy!

It’s Only Words #13

“Hey, Bud”

“Who do we have here?”, the man asked me as I walked with my grandson on the hiking trail behind my house.

I walk on the trail nearly every day and often pass this man as we go in opposite directions. We exchange brief pleasantries, usually about the weather.

One day when my grandson was visiting, he joined me on my morning walk. He had just gotten a hair-cut in preparation for his first day of Kindergarten. The cut was pretty dramatic – a mohawk – so it was hard to miss! We passed the man on the trail. “Who do we have here?” he asked me, and to my grandson he said, “Hey, Bud! I like the way you cut your hair!”

My grandson just looked at him and said, “I didn’t cut it”!

The man thought that was hilarious and could be heard laughing as he continued his walk passed us.

My grandson apparently felt the need to explain: “Well, I didn’t cut it, Grammy! The barber did!”

“I know, honey”, I said as we walked towards home. He looked confused, but I was amused!

For Ragtag Daily Prompt: Bud

It’s Only Words #12

Footprints

I have a love/hate relationship with words. Words on my “do not like” list include nightmare, exploit and laundry (and hate, so I really shouldn’t use it here). Then there are words that just make me feel good – like raindrops, whimsy and cookies. Another of my favorite words is footprints. It always reminds me of that poem about two sets of footprints becoming one when God carries you through difficult times. I love that! It also reminds me of the poem I wrote several years ago about my father. I used the word “footprints” in it, so whenever I hear that word – my thoughts immediately go there. Here is the poem:

MY FATHER, MY SEAGULL

I felt myself

lifted away by a mighty seagull.

I helped him scan the waves in search of food.

I held on tight

as he swooped down towards the water,

then suddenly, we headed out to sea.

He caught an updraft

and we soared higher and higher.

He didn’t even need to flap his wings.

We watched the waves

try to overtake each other, yet they

always seemed to find their way to shore; as did we.

He landed gently.

I let go of his neck and slid down slowly.

He watched me leave my footprints in the sand.

Then he left me.

I tried to catch him, but I couldn’t, so I cried

just like I did the day they told me Daddy died.

For Ragtag Daily Prompt: Footprint

It’s Only Words #11

Panda Cam

Facebook isn’t good for much, in my opinion, unless my friends post pictures of their grandchildren or I find an amazing animal video. I have been fascinated recently by the Panda Cam at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo showing Giant Panda Mei Xiang and her newborn cub. Mei Xiang instinctively knows to be attentive to the cub’s every need: to nurse it, to clean it, and because it has no fur yet – to cuddle and cradle it to keep it warm. The zoo created a den for them where they will spend the first few months of the cub’s life. Follow the Smithsonian’s National Zoo Panda Cam on Facebook to watch this precious time between Mother and Cub:

 https://s.si.edu/2xiVLKp#PandaStory #PandaCubdates

For Ragtag Daily Prompt: Instinct

It’s Only Words #10

The Introvert – 201

Standing in shadows

hoping not to be noticed

yet begging to be

This Haiku would lead you to believe that an introvert is a socially shy person. While that can be true, being an introvert doesn’t necessarily mean social anxiety. It means people with this personality trait tend to be more inward focused. They turn more to internal thoughts, feelings and moods rather than external attention – like in this haiku which I posted here on August 6, 2017:

The Introvert – 101

She is just a girl

whose sunlight stays inside her

silently shining

Wishing a good day to all my fellow introverts!

It’s Only Words #9

A New Attitude!

We have finally returned from our much-needed travel break with a fresh, new attitude and a positive outlook during difficult times. Travel has a way of putting things into perspective, of making us see just how minute people and things really are in the grand scheme of things. Yes, problems in our world abound, but this too shall pass! That realization helps us to live a life less ordinary, to follow our dreams whenever possible, and to leave our burdens behind every chance we get. With a plethora of rewarding experiences and lasting memories, I’ll have countless new stories to share. You have been warned! Travel posts ahead… with lots and lots of pictures of the beauty in the USA.

It’s Only Words #8

Road Trippin’

A road trip this year was never the plan – the plan was international travel! Our European river cruise was booked over a year ago, but COVID-19 put an abrupt halt to all non-essential travel so our plans had to change. Just like everyone else, we were disappointed about the things that would never be, and we struggled to understand the new “normal”. Being stuck at home 24/7 for weeks and weeks did have one advantage – it gave us plenty of time to come up with Travel Plan B. Instead of packing our passports, plane tickets and cruise vouchers, we will load up the car with hand sanitizer, face masks and disinfecting wipes, and hit the road for a good old-fashioned summer driving adventure. We will roll down the windows, crank up the music and social distance to the point of being rude! Why not – gas is cheap! So, take care everyone. We’ll chat again in a few weeks.

It’s Only Words #7

Morning Light Scattered the Night

One of my favorite quotes is by F. Scott Fitzgerald:

“It was only a sunny smile, and little it cost in the giving, but like morning light it scattered the night and made the day worth living.”

While F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of America’s most celebrated writers, biographies about him and his wife, Zelda reveal flawed individuals fraught with pain. They had an extravagant lifestyle and spent much of their early marriage in pursuit of excess. His struggles with alcoholism and hers with mental illness led to sad lives for them both. But his ornate writing style is one of my favorites. He used elaborate descriptions, clever similes, and put many of his own life experiences into his fiction.

I love this quote from “The Great Gatsby”. It is a great example of his style:

“He must have looked up at an unfamiliar sky through frightening leaves and shivered as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is and how raw the sunlight was upon the scarcely created grass. A new world, material without being real, where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously about… like the ashen, fantastic figure gliding toward him through the amorphous trees.”

I have read books by and about F. Scott Fitzgerald, but one of my favorites is a work of fiction about his wife: “A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald” by Therese Fowler.

It’s Only Words #6

Daybreak

Have you ever seen the dull, grey underbelly of the sky? It exposes itself when darkness fades and the sky is no longer black, nor is it blue; just before the sun arises to burn off the colorless night. As the sky becomes tinged with hopeful brightness… Poof! The dim underbelly disappears!

It’s Only Words #5