Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Mom's Nature Walks

Astronomers peer far out to the depths of the universe so they can see what things looked like in, or near, the beginning of time. The oldest "memories" are out there, if we can retrieve them.

Some years back, I wrote a short story and Mom said, "Your story takes place in exactly the same way as our nature walks. Do you remember them?" Her telescope hit my distant galaxy and, yes, I did start to recall those times. She said they happened more or less out of desperation when she ran out of things for me to do in my very early years. So she would say, "Let's take a nature walk."

As we talked over the phone, I remembered brushing leaves aside to see flowers pushing themselves out of the ground; I saw myself turning rocks over to see what was under them, the bugs running for cover, the wet earth. We looked at trees, at bark, at leaves and birds. I discovered the small.

There is so much big in the world today, with bigger tomorrow and biggest the next day. Things get so big we can't enjoy them; either we enjoy just a small part, or we see it all in a quick blur -- and that's certainly not enjoyment.

When I take my yearly cruise, I spend time each day just looking. I look at the outside lights and think: How many companies were involved in making this light fixture? Someone made the light filament, another the glass bulb around it, the metal base for the bulb, the glass plate over it, the copper wiring, the insulation, the metal covering for the fixture, the screws, nuts and bolts -- we're up to nine companies already and we haven't even touched the shipping container and the printing on it, the labels, the truck that picks it up and all the associated people involved in delivering it to the ship, the people who installed it at the shipyard. How many people are responsible for that light being created and placed where it is! And there are so many devices on this ship with a similar history.

It's my nature walk. It's how I appreciate that it's not just the light, it's not just the showroom piano, nor the buffet line in the Lido restaurant. It's the whole ship in miniature, my appreciation of those who put these huge things together. I think of every person who laid tool to metal, whoever they are. They are not nameless, faceless workers. They are the ship.

Everybody has a story:

A priest friend of mine is a far more religious person than I. He's not nuts about it and is very balanced in all parts of his life, including his spirituality. A gentle, caring guy who is the easiest person to have around you. So it came as very much of a surprise when he told the parishoners at the church where he helped out that it had been revealed to him that he would have a violent death in the month of September. When he went to visit his sister in California on September 11, he chose United 175, the second plane that crashed into the World Trade Center.


Blogger Cold Josh Vail said...

Nature trails, huh! Moms are all alike I guess. My mom would walk me around the yard and show me the daffodil sprouts in the spring. They remained my favorite flower, my Easter flower. She showed me a lot. However, for nature trails, or nature observation which would naturally become nature walks, my dad was good.

I learned early that worms come out at night, big ones too. Very surprising too that I thought they could see at night through all that grass. I always thought, I suppose, that when I went to bed everything outside went to bed too except the local bears and wolves. (When you are seven years old and an nine year old tells you about seeing a bear in his yard, you believe it only because he said so). Funny, those worms would stretch out a foot long it seemed.

At the seawall, there were always sea gulls, except at night. My dadshowed me how they would catch a crab or pick up a mussel and fly up forty or fifty feet and drop it, and swoop down to retrieve it before another gull came around. The none day two gulls were sitting on the pilings not doing much and a blue-haired old lady came out of Pandy's with a bag of French Fries and for lack of anything better to do, the nearest gull flew down and tried it out. He returned to the piling and said to the other gull, who just happened to be his brother-in-law, ''Hey man, this ain't too shabby''. The blue-haired ancestor having seen this flipped out another one and the brother-in-law got it. They both agreed that it was much less trouble to gobble fries than to crack crabs. The venerable lady thought she just might be onto something and waved to a stranger lady and her husband not far away and she tossed out the rest of her bag of fries. Immediately Fred the gull and his brother-in-law landed on it, squabbled and have not talked to each other since then. Their squabbling attracted three zig trillion other birds who were busy at the antiquated job of dropping crabs and from that date June 17, 1952 not one seagull has had to fetch a crustacé and anthoer blow to nature was dealt. The American seagull is now the bird with the highest level of cholesterol of all the winged feathered species in this hemisphere, forsaking all that Omega-3 or whatever just because some do-good blue-haired old lady fropped a fry. May we shed a tear or two for Dame Nature.

April 12, 2006 4:20 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home