We’re free-falling into summer. The kids are a grubby blur.
I catch them scarfing fistfuls of garden peas and think, daily vegetable consumption: Check. Dan calls from work with ideas for our next three camping destinations. The rate at which I pull weeds is directly related to how much lettuce is left in the garden: edible weeds currently tipping the scales in our salads. The kids have gone feral within the neighborhood, traveling like hobos from trampoline to trampoline. Best way to find them is to open a window and listen. In the evenings, the chickens run to the worm-spangled compost, proving that things are happening in those brains regarding memory.
We seek water – creeks, rivers, lakes – to soothe the pinch of the Southwestern sun. The kids insert goose feather sails into driftwood boats and point them downstream toward the Pacific Ocean. At home, they mold endless mud cookies, drying them systematically on boards, to be hurled, concrete-dry, at a piece of plywood. Thwack. They have a hardened row waiting for their friend Jonny, his birthday gift. Inside, Col reads the comic book TinTin and it’s all still so new – this boy, reading – that I have to refrain from asking, So, when you say you’re reading, what exactly does that mean?
I always feel a sense of accomplishment when my kids spend the day outside pulling entertainment from the twin engines of nature and imagination. “Look, they’re so ... creative, er, I mean innovative, or, well, um ... happy,” I tell Dan. But, I get confused sometimes, because what was it I was supposed to be preparing my children for? Happiness? An income-producing job? Honestly, it might be something more like: need very little so you don’t become beholden to that income-producing job.
I’ve always liked this quote by Howard Thurman:
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Because goodness, we’re pretty good at that, I mean, really, when are the children not coming alive? You should see them at the river. On the neighborhood trampolines popping like popcorn. Huddled pointedly over their sticky orbs in the backyard mud pit. Their very brain architecture renders them built to come alive. I envy them their buoyancy, and siphon off what they generously spill.
Recently, at Junction Creek, Col scrambled up a boulder, discovered fish below and spent the next two hours attempting to bomb trout with rocks.
“Hey, leave those fish alone,” I almost shouted, before discovering that this 9-year-old was uncannily close to nabbing dinner. He’s already fashioning a spear for our next trip. I’ll bring the cooler full of ice.
Reach Rachel Turiel at firstname.lastname@example.org.Visit her blog, 6512 and growing, on raising children, chickens and other messy, rewarding endeavors at 6,512 feet.