Debra Darvickenhance your now in word and image
KIDS @ HEART
One of the prayers in our morning liturgy gives gratitude for the renewal of each day. Among the fourteen phrases thanking God for our numerous blessings, one thanks the Divine for “providing for all my needs.” Whenever I recited this blessing, I would get to that line and acknowledge that my basic needs are met and so much more.
One of my teachers opened my eyes a bit wider by suggesting “all our needs” includes the stuff of life we say we need like a “hole in the head.” In other words those frustrations, accidents and devestations that befall us that we certainly don’t ask for and would never in a million years say we needed.
I acknowledge this is dicey philosophical territory. Does someone actually need a cancer diagnosis? A viscious frenemy or relative? Or, God forbid, the loss of a loved one? No. No. No. But really horrible stuff happens — to all of us. Six plus decades playing this game called Life and I recognize the painful experiences that have surely formed me and demanded of me growth and healing. I’ve railed at God plenty for “giving” me what I not only didn’t ask for but said up front I did not need in the least. Guess what? I got some of those too. Accepting them has brought insight and ultimately understanding.
The verse “who provides for all my needs” is followed by “who guides us on our path.” Perhaps this is intentional. When we’re shunted onto a painful path a little Divine guidance just might light the way.
I have wanted a hammock for the longest time. Let me repeat, the longest time. I dithered for years. The frames were too big. We had no trees between which to suspend one. Where would I store it. The best ones took quite a bite out of the budget. I was the only one who really wanted it. Martin is quite content sitting for long stretches at the patio table, reading, looking out, nodding off. Not me.
It was shaping up to be a fairly quiet summer once again. Ergo, hammock time! But could I find one that was compact, transportable, affordable, and still had that hammocky-feeling? Yes, yes and yes. And yes. Mock One Compact freestanding hammock to the rescue. The set-up went as promised. Collapsing it took a try or two or three, but now I have the hang of it. At 12 pounds it’s definietly portable; I can move it to different parts of the yard. The days the lilacs were blooming, off I hammocked beside them. Too much sun and 90º heat and I retreated to the back of the patio beneath the evergreen. I could even bring it indoors if I felt so inclined. There are drink holders on both sides, a sun shade, and a nifty little cover (more of a corset, really) that keeps it all together. It’s a cinch of a hammock.
While this one doesn’t sway the way tree or stand-affixed hammocks do, that delightful feeling of being cocooned and suspended is definitely part of the experience. So is looking up into the trees above me on the patio. After a year of going nowhere I’m fairly content to sway on the porch, watch the light move through the trees, and give thanks for the breeze.
I love swings. I can’t swing as high as I used to but I still love that swoopy feeling of trying to reach the sky with my feet. Put me on a swing and I feel the years falling away.
We were in Chicago over Mother’s Day weekend and went to a new park near the kids’ apartment. Maybe swing makers are getting wise to the fact that Boomer grandparents also like swings. When it was my turn I hopped on and let my kid at heart have her fill!
photo credit: Martin Darvick
With a slight apology to Cole Porter:
I love nature in the springtime.
I love nature, why oh why do I love nature,
because of all the treasures to be found.
Well, I was going to write about the childish delight that still arises when I find bird feathers and egg shells on our walks. I’ve been known to carry a yolk-shellacked shell home, saving it to share with my granddaughters.
I have learned it is illegal to do this. Ditto fallen feathers of US migratory birds, including those of crows, cardinals, blue jays and every North American bird that might frequent your feeder. The law is draconianly rigid, understandable given the species that were hunted into extinction and the plight of present-day birds as human expansion destroys habitat after habitat.
There is one feather I found that I can still enjoy guilt-free. Peacocks are not native to North America. I found this feather on the ground at the zoo and took it home. I am not a destroyer of Nature. I take spiders outside when I find them in our house. I taught my children to return sidewalk-stranded worms back into the grass after a rainstorm. My granddaughters and I will release our spring treasures back into the wild once we have studied and delighted in them. Except this one:
There are infinite ways to define what it means to be a Kid @ Heart. Perhaps a key lies in that feeling of infinite joy. For me, on the afternoon Martin snapped this shot, infinite joy was walking barefoot on the beach.
Ursa, a character in Glendy Vanderah’s novel Where the Forest Meets the Stars, had this to say on the subject, “She’s kind of like a baby. She didn’t know she was supposed to grow up and that makes her more fun than other grown-up people.”
I’m very glad I didn’t know I was supposed to grow up when it comes to stomping in rain puddles, dancing in the rain, and making pretend Reese’s cups by squeezing chocolate syrup on a spoon of peanut butter. What about you? Where in your life didn’t you know you were supposed to grow up?
I began flying alone at an early age. My parents would walk me to the plane, introduce me to a stewardess who sat me right up front and kept an eye on me. A quick forty-five minutes or so later, she would hand me over to my grandmother who was waiting at the bottom of what seemed then like a very tall metal staircase. I loved the four pointed stars that decorated each step.
Flying at an early age meant going through airports, which meant walking by scores of shop windows filled with all sorts of stuff a little kid just had to have. That’s how I came to covet a little pair of kissing dolls. They were displayed upon a pair of revolving plates. As they neared one another, their magnetic lips locked for a second or two before the plates’ motion parted them. I thought they were utter magic. No matter how many times I asked, the answer was always no. They were silly. There was a plane to catch. There was traffic to get through. I had enough toys. All true, except for the silly part.
For some reason, I mentioned the memory to a friend some months ago. Three weeks later a small package arrived. I whooped with surprise and delight when I opened it. My kissing dolls! I played with them at once, slipping them past one another, testing the tension of the magnets. How close did they have to be to kiss? How far before they were beyond kissing distance? I was so touched that my friend had indulged us both in a moment of kid-joy. Next time she visits I will even let her play with them. Promise.