An Explore for My Birthday

My father gives good gifts.

And this year, for my birthday, we went on an Explore. We were trying to find the mythical Farrandsville cairns.  And we did. We found them after an up-hill climb, and many misgivings and we'll-see's.  (A distant relative of will o' th' wisps, in case you weren't familiar with them.)

 As you can see, the day began in a most auspicious manner; water, map, journal, extra journal, pen, sandals and continued in like manner; a conglomeration of happy things.

After the cairns, we:

Peeked into a musty old church.

Found some yellow leaves.

Stopped for sweet tea because it was my birthday and I have a weakness for strong sweet tea.

Noticed some glory-filled flowers.

and Explored an old park.

(A little "Speak Friend and Enter"  -ish, don't you think?)

(It has been nearly seven months since that day but its memory has not diminished in contentedness. So I decided to blow the sleepy dust off it, and post this after all.)


Circa 1949:

"Once there were four children named Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy..." 

Circa 2000: 
  Once there was two little girls, nicknamed Day and Jules, listening wide-eyed to a bedtime story. Their aunt was reading to them in the cold upper story of a farmhouse in Pennsylvania, the two little girls with blankets up to their chins, listening intently.  It was an enchanting story, and introduced them to many beautiful words and lands. It was dark outside, but inside there was a lamppost and then a resurrection morning.

 Circa 2014:
   Once there were eight little children, nicknamed "the studentry", listening wide-eyed to the morning story. They perch on their yellow chairs, listening, but not always quietly. 
"No, Edmund! Don't go with her! Don't listen to her."  
"Ooooo, I think I know what's going to happen."
"Teacher, I'm scared!"    
 "It will all come right in the end," I tell them, and take my turn introducing young eyes to many beautiful words and lands. Outside our circle is humdrum of November, but inside is timeless betrayal and then a glorious redemption. 

  And then I discover that unwittingly, lavishly, they repay me.  My eyes see a familiar land, but through theirs it holds the same wonder and intrigue it did during those first bedtime story-sessions.

 Narnia is new...  and I have found Aslan again.



It snowed. 


And it was like trying to keep eight objects under water, all at once. 

They twisted in their seats, glancing/staring out the window rather too often. This wasn't helped by the sporadic nature of the snow. One minute,white bees filling the air thick and fast, the next a mild blue and white sky. One never knew what would be there the next time one looked.  
Also unhelpful was the halfhearted way their teacher told them to focus on their work.  
It was snowing.... 

Tr, turning a 180 in his chair, stared round-eyed at the drifting flakes. Stage whispered: "THIS IS THE DAY, THIS IS THE DAY THAT THE LORD...."   effectively side-tracking Ch and Ty. 

hath made, thought the teacher. Hallelujah.

It snowed. Delight reigned. 

And sometimes chaos.


Upon a Request, of sorts....

My heart does not wear shoes,
I told her when she asked what color they were.
It’s kind of unhandy sometimes, I said.
I mean, I often step on sharp pointy things
And it isn’t unusual to get insect bites on my instep arches,
And sometimes I stub my toes.

Oh, she said, that’s why I always wear steel-toed boots.

But, I went on, my heart goes barefoot, because I have felt enough
Moss patches to know that
There are some things steel-toed boots don’t cover.
Just think of new summer grass, I said, and cold mountain streams.
Think of beaches and blankets and other bare feet pressed close,
Think of leaf piles and cool tile floors and ladder rungs...
Hmm, she said. Once my shoelaces wear out, maybe I’ll try sandals.
And I watched her walk away heavily.


"And then, quite suddenly, summer was over.
   He knew it first when walking downtown. Tom grabbed his arm and pointed gasping, at the dime-store window. They stood there unable to move because of the things from another world displayed so neatly, so innocently, so frighteningly, there.
     "Pencils, Doug, ten thousand pencils!"
     "Oh my gosh!"
     "Nickel tablets, dime tablets, notebooks, erasers, water colors, rulers, compasses, a hundred thousand of them!"
     "Don't look. Maybe it's just a mirage."
     "No," moaned Tom in despair. "School. School straight on ahead! Why, why do dime stores show things like that in windows before summer's even over! Ruin half the vacation!"
      They walked on home and found Grandfather lone on the sere, bald-spotted lawn, plucking the last few dandelions. They worked with him silently for a time and then Douglas, bent in his own shadow, said:
      "Tom, if this year's gone like this, what will next year be, better or worse?"
      "Don't ask me." Tom blew a tune on a dandelion stem. "I didn't make the world." He thought about it. "Though some days I feel like I did." He spat happily.
      "I got a hunch," said Douglas.
      "Next year's going to be even bigger, days will be brighter, nights longer and darker, more people dying, more babies born, and me in the middle of it all."
      "You and two zillion other people, Doug, remember."
      "Day like today," murmured Douglas, "I feel it'll be...just me!"
      "Need any help," said Tom, "just yell."
      "What could a ten-year-old brother do?"
      "A ten-year-old brother'll be eleven next summer. I'll unwind the world like the rubber band on a golf ball's insides every morning, put it back together every night. Show you how, if you ask."
      "Always was." Tom crossed his eyes, stuck out his tongue. "Always will be."
      Douglas laughed. They went down in the cellar with Grandpa and while he decapitated the flowers they looked at all the summer shelved and glimmering there in the motionless streams, the bottles of dandelion wine. Numbered from one to ninety-odd, there the ketchup bottles, most of them full now, stood burning in cellar twilight, one for every living summer day.
      "Boy," said Tom, "what a swell way to save June, July, and August. Real practical."

-excerpt from Dandelion Wine, by Ray Bradbury


a 3-month old piece of writing (choir tour), dusted off.

We are aboard a spaceship. We have already made this home. We are tethered to it somehow. Every planet we land on, we explore, but no matter how far we go, we are not free-floating. We are tethered to it. We feel its presence always, tugging us back to its steel frame. It will take us pioneers home, eventually. Until then, we stop on many planets, find fresh sources of water and strange clocks. We meet the friendly natives, forging bonds that will always haunt us, tug us from afar. We are astronauts and we sing for our supper. We sail across these galaxies; travelling from time to time, placing space between us and our home-folk and lessening the space between us and our notes. We are astronauts. We are tethered to our ship, and we sail among these clouds, singing.


Because she has been talking of the sea and making me miss it all over again, and because I heard gulls last night, and because today is rainy and the sea would be dark if I were out on it: a poem. 


The restless sea is calling, and I would be away
To where the surf pounds up the beach to thunder in my ears,
To where the salt wind tastes like wine, and sailing vessels gay
Go out to strange sea-guarded ports and drift home gray with years.
From books and shells and scraps of tales these thoughts have come to me,
For I was born far inland who long to go to sea.

The midland has its voices, but they call to me in vain.
I care not for the whispering road nor drumming city street,
My heartbeats do not quicken to the thrush's joyous strain,
Nor to the sighing music of the wind upon the wheat.
The bees drone their contented song- but what is this to me?
For I was born far inland and long to hear the sea.

The sky is like the sea today and clouds like galleons ride-
I found a tiny river just beginning near the spring,
That called for me to follow and it would be my guide;
A boisterous echo in its tone, that yet was whispering,
Gave me a hint of ocean surge, and soon I know that we
Shall leave this inland country and make our way to sea.

-James S. Hearst

p.s. thankfully I live near forests, which can be like oceans sometimes...