Through The Lens of a Child


A reminiscent post that gave my heart a smile today…..

Each and every day and usually more than once, I drive past a lovely Equestrian Center very close to my home. It’s a beautiful place where horses of all breeds are boarded, competitions are held and lessons are taught, trail rides are given, and a bit of magic happens…..

On any given day, behind white split-rail fencing in flat, muddy fields I’ll see mares munching on bales of hay, stallions kept at bay, geldings trotting close enough to take a look, and if I’m very, very lucky, a mama nursing her baby foal on spindly legs or a dewy colt newly born.

This past summer on a still afternoon, my husband and I pulled into the dusty parking lot of the above with our little grand-daughter who squealed with delight. Clouds of brown welcomed our car with poofs of air the color of smoke. A wooden porch of sun-bleached planks greeted us before we checked in. Sitting on the plain pine bench, I almost expected a prickly tumbleweed to roll by!

The smell of open barns drifted my way, drawing me in. My grand-daughter’s small of hand clasped my own, looking up to me. Her eyes of saucer blue together with a smile that melts my heart-so-much stopped me in my tracks. We went on to visit countless stalls of fresh cream-colored straw, most with horses living in them. Others were out, taking a break. Everything was ‘new’ to her, a story waiting, words to say, more magic happening…..

Wafting through the first barn was the musty scent of sweaty twine together with horse manure from nearby fields of munched on grass and weeds.  Click-Click…sounds of fancy cowboy boots tapping on the pitted cement floor while silver spurs passed right in front of us. So close we could almost touch them! Shiny silver with sparkling jewels together with little stars twinkling from them! On the wall to the left, a long row of black helmets hung from dark brass hooks. “But, why…,” she asked. Always a question, forever an answer. “To keep you safe,” I explained.

“I want to see the horses, Grandpa,” our grand-daughter exclaimed, jumping up and down! My husband lifted her with both hands, propping her up on his shoulders to get a better view over the fence-line. Gorgeous, smooth, soft-to-the-touch heads in solids and spots sprung from their lunch breaks to check us out. Pointed ears in brown, black or tan tapered just so, in curiosity. Long, wiry hair of swishing tails swinging back and forth. Sooo pretty!

Thinking it might be time to go, we moved towards the car. “Where are the ponies,” came tiny words from little, ‘Moppet Head.’  My husband and I held her hands to walk several blocks to the last and final barn.  Home to all of the ponies. There she hung on the rail, eye-level to ‘horses’ more her size. She whispered close to their ears, named each and every one and visited their stalls, before blowing imaginary kisses to say, “Good-Bye.”

After all my time in living here, it took a child’s innocence for me to see the magic in a place I’ve barely glimpsed before. How much MORE of life is there to live, if only I could look through the lens of a child?

 

 

Take Time to Play


Ohhh, if only I could have captured the playful dance scampering in the rain among the thatch of green! So mesmerized, I couldn’t look away. A silent whisper to my ear. “Do not move, for in a second the beauty of this may disappear.”

Gray skies hovered above flowered fields altering between drizzles and downpours during all of this past week. Temperatures fluctuated from the tip-top of hot before crashing to cool.

As I gazed out the glass to the back of my yard, sheets of light, steady rain continued to fall, creating a small stream. The shallow water swirled around a row of tall pines toward the willow tree. Suddenly a flash of colored honey caught my eye. 

As if Walt Disney himself waved his magic wand from above, a family of four left their little forest land to wander upon the soft carpet of my lawn.

One by one, a young buck of fuzzy horns, together with his beautiful doe and two spotted fawns slowly began to eat foliage while heaven’s showers fell upon their backs. She was on high alert, eyes darting in all directions while twins bounded out of sight. Suddenly, spindly legs scampered around the corner. 

The doe came closer to my patio, trying to reel her babies in, but they were having none of it. Instead, they began to tease her with play. She did not appear happy. Her tail of white raised straight up while she stomped her right front hoove. The fawns continued running back and forth in a zig-zag pattern right beneath the wet of their mother’s shiny black nose. 

Finally, the doe did something I had never seen before. She began to PLAY with the twins, imitating them two or three times by taking a few steps forward before backing up to wait for them to do the same. Which they did, before playfully running to and fro in front of her.  

The rain continued to fall, steady drops from the sky soaking all below, incouraging life to survive and thrive….and yes, even take time to play.

*photo rights http://www.curiousnaturalist.com and Google Chrome

Sweet Bunny of Brown


Bunny of brown hopping through grasses of tall and green

Darting about stopping to munch his lunch.

Children at play point fingers his way

“Look,” they say!

Bunny of brown is fearful now hiding behind bushes near.

Toes of ten stuck on little feet skip loose around each bend

Hoping to catch a closer look of fur so soft with tail of white.

“If only to touch for one second in life, feelings of soft dreamy delight!”

Bunny of brown hiding under tree of pine where needles have fallen to the ground

With eyes of coffee watching carefully while ears twitch ever so slight.

Vibrations felt, grasses bend, toddlers and tots inch far too close

Bunny of brown jumping up and down hopping closer to its home.

Free at last hiding in his mother’s nest

Taking time to finally rest.

Yes, my sweet Bunny of Brown.

 *photos courtesy of Google Chrome

Lost and Found


The last weekend of long was filled with anticipation for me.  I was off to visit my elderly father in Phoenix, Arizona.  I use the term elderly in a loose manner as he doesn’t look elderly to me, nor does he behave as such.  A boy’s brain in an aging body it seems.  I thank God for that.

I met my sisters at the airport and immediately our togetherness could have become a pilot for an unscripted reality show.  Even at the airport, we got lost before finding each other.  From there it went downhill whenever our sub-compact rental car opened it’s doors to us.  Contorted in every-which-way, we felt caged in small can of tin on wheels of four.  Minus an opener.

My youngest sister was the designated driver.  It was only after we made a wrong turn coming out of the airport that I realized she needed glasses for distance.  She couldn’t read a single sign.  “Kim,” she playfully squawked at me, “I’m a great driver when I know where I’m going!”  “Kellie, you don’t know where you’re going because we’re in Phoenix, not Dallas!”  “Yes, but I’m really good when I use your eyes!”  Seriously?  Seriously??!  “That’s fine,” I responded, “but my eyes are not behind the wheel!”

What should have been a 45 minute drive to my father’s house ended up taking two and a half hours.  My GPS helped to re-route us while my younger sister’s did the same from the back of our seats.  Every few seconds or minutes voices were heard guiding us.  “Make a U-turn, proceed to ramp,” or “Merge on to I-10.”  Again and again and again.  Have you ever tried listening to two voices at the same time?  It was very confusing.  Even more so because one of them had a British accent.  No luck in turning it off.  I tried.  Several times.  The British accent was along for the ride!

Finally we called my father.  Five or six times….At least.  I can’t imagine what he was thinking.  It was nearly 11:30 pm.  He had been waiting for our arrival since 9:00.  Like any father, he was worried and scared, wondering what could have happened to his three daughters.

Guiding us into a parking lot of a nearby restaurant, San Tan Flats, his voice crackled in disbelief through the speaker of an I-phone.  “Oh you girls, do you see the stuffed bear to the left?  Turn right.  Drive until you see a For Sale sign at the end of the parking lot.”  We did before somehow ending up at the restaurant’s hulking emerald-green dumpster.  Our bright lights caught a raccoon scampering off in the distance of the desert darkness.

“Dad, what do we do now?” my sister asked, in panic.  I could tell my dad couldn’t believe his ears.  “Back up, back up, turn around and follow the smoke from the campfire.  Go out the nearest drive to the first road.  I’ll stay on the line.”

Bless my father’s heart.  He did stay on the line, hearing a big thud as we drove over a Saguaro that had fallen during a recent storm.  Car lights, bright from our rental car soon shined on the best of him.  Standing in the middle of the dusty desert road he stood wearing baggy jeans and a loose yellow shirt.  On his feet were tennis shoes, glowing in fluorescent white.  His legs were balanced straight, even and wide apart.   His arms of two lifted high towards a clear endless sky with hands swaying back and forth in a frenzy as if to yell, “STOP!  Turn off the engine now, before it’s too late!”

In spite of our trials of lost and found my father together with all of his children had the very best time.  Rare because the five of us were all together with him.  During the weekend we went to the American Legion where he sang Karaoke and danced the night away with his girlfriend.  Yes, she is so kind and they are happy!

My sisters and I woke in early mornings to share coffee under quiet, peaceful canopies of leftover stars.  We walked at dawn to discover horses who neighed, mongrels who barked and flowers that bloomed “Hello” from nothing more than dry cinnamon dust of a desert crust.

Then the inevitable happened.  Such sweet sorrow to say, “Good-by.”  A whisper in my ear from my father. Choking up he said, “Your mother would love to see all of you kids together like this.”  Hugging him tight, I whispered back, “She does, Dad.”

That’s what life is all about.  Love and bonding.  Togetherness.  No matter how far apart, get together again.  Create new memories.  Laughter.  Even the mini-trips of lost and found with my sisters will forever be with me.  I dare say one of my ribs might be broken from laughing so hard.  No matter.  All was worth it.

From every second in the desert dark to each minute of my father’s mark…..All above is in my heart forever.

Steamed Heat


Steamed Heat arrived in St. Louis recently, lasting day and night.  Never a break it seemed to me.  An odd season of weather this year.  June was a bath of rain from heaven above while July might have baked bread of rye.  I wondered why?  The heat stifled me a bit.  My body, mind and spirit seemed to shut down.  Although rested from cooling temperatures and the beauty of a trip north, the slap of 100+ heat index took a toll on me.

Silence in the back of my yard.  No forest friends to welcome me.  It was too hot for them to venture out from beneath their tent of trees.  Truth be told, I only peered from the inside of window panes above cool air blowing up from the basement below.  There, I hoped to see legs and tails.  Wings and beaks.  Fur and feathers together with animals playing hide and seek.  Not to be.  Sweltering you see.

When outside, my city felt like the inside of a sauna.   During the day, mist covered the glass of homes, dulling sunlight that desperately tried to part invisible curtains.  Itty-bitty bubbles, small and slight clung to sides of clear until they evaporated late in the day or perhaps not until the next.  Steamed heat moved into neighborhoods, hiding any sign of window screens while air conditioning ran 24/7.

Yet last night a break in the weather!  Cooler temperatures slid down into the 90’s with lower humidity and a breeze that floated under the skin of my nose.  Tiptoeing outside to water fried flowers, I stopped to sit without burning the bare of my feet.  As I often do, I gazed upward toward the top of the hill where crown vetch grows thick and tall this time of year.

There was movement to my left.  Slight, but I was right.  Except for eyes, I did not stir.  Darting this way and that, the two of blue searched for what my heart had been seeking. Suddenly, four pointed ears, copper in color, peeked above the tall of green.  Twin fawns, spotted in white munched on an endless dinner.  Surely their mother would not be far away   Seconds later, she stepped regally out of the woods in order to protect her young.

At the very same time, a blueish-grey turkey’s head meandered down the hill, gobbling all the way.  Still I didn’t move, afraid I’d spook the beautiful bird of feathered brown.  To my surprise, bobbing behind her were little rounds of balding blue.  1-2-3-4-5!  Five babies or poults as they are officially called.  I know this because I wrote a previous post that included them entitled What Nature Teaches You, http://wp.me/p41md8-1HQ.  Still, it’s the first time I’d ever seen a hen leading five poults down the steep of the hill.  Gobbling every few seconds, they moved their necks backward and forward, pecking a path towards their home among the darkened trees.

Just above my head hanging on a shady tree limb was a hummingbird feeder.  Call me lucky, but while all of this was going on two different birds, one dressed in lime green feathers and the other black and white trimmed in red stopped to feed.  They darted, flapping unseen wings while pointing long beaks into pink plastic flowers.  Inside, the sweet of red colored sugar-water waited patiently.

In those moments of minutes I realized that life is all about timing.  If Steamed Heat hadn’t lifted, I would have stayed in the house.  If I hadn’t ventured onto my patio to water flowers, kick off my shoes or take a seat in those very seconds all would have been different.  The animals I love may have still been foraging for food near fallen pine needles within the coolness of the forest.  I know I have God to thank for timing as well as Steamed Heat!

For a brief moment I was disappointed a camera was not at my side to capture the glory of last evening.  At the same time, I believe any slight movement of body or chair, a tilt of my head or a click of the camera would have startled all of God’s creatures.  Although unable to share them, I’m fortunate to have the wonder of their pictures forever painted on the canvas of my mind.

Steamed Heat Children

 

Trust


Trust.  It seems inbred in the hearts and minds of little children whenever together with animals.  There is an unspoken bond of trust between them, triggered by instinct.  I take great delight in observing it, finding it nearly palpable.  Love and laughter, sharing, caring and trust.

Back in May of this year, my only grandson celebrated his first birthday during an outdoor party complete with a petting zoo.  His great-grandfather was able to join the celebration, traveling all the way from Arizona to make it extra special.  In an earlier post I wrote of the anticipation of such entitled, “Dads With Little Lambs.”  How lucky we were to have it land on a glorious spring day!  Blue skies matched the color of gemstones while a breeze gently puffed cool air through new born leaves dangling from ancient limbs of oak trees.

There was no ‘white picket fence’ surrounding baby animals that day.  Instead, children were allowed to chase chickens freely.  Chubby fingers touched new textures, repeating names of four-legged friends they had only met before in picture books or pieced together in chunky puzzle boards of primary colors.   Each child took turns petting spotted calves groaning, “M.O.O.” before skinny legs dressed in ruffles or blue jeans swung over saddles to take their very first pony rides.

Afterwards, the guest of honor was stripped naked, except for a diaper that seemed to match his new friend of black and white spots.  My grandson soon sat grinning on a huge sheet of plastic red.  It rippled and crinkled whenever he moved.  He loved the feel of it, I could tell!  Within seconds, a farm decorated Smash Cake , complete with miniature bright red barn appeared before his two enormous blue-watered eyes.  Murmurs traveled among those who sat on benches of wood behind picnic tables of green.  What would the birthday boy do?  Stick his finger to taste a treat of brown bunny frosting?  Or snatch and seize the biggest field of golden-colored corn he’d ever seen?

In the end, the big-little guy couldn’t contain himself.  He dove right in.  Head-first!  Exactly what his new animal friends had whispered silently to him minutes before.  “Go for it,” they had said, as only animal friends can do.   And so he did.

Trust….

Dads With Little Lambs


In only a couple of weeks, days really, my father will visit from Arizona.  It will be the first chance that he’s had to meet four new great-grand-babies.  Four!  What will he say to faces smiling up at him so new and bright?  How will he feel rocking babes to sleep at night?

There are periods I long for my father’s presence.  Times when I wish he lived closer in order to pop in unexpectedly with my grand-girls.  The oldest at three, might show him her latest trick learned at gymnastics class.  Perhaps she’d stir invisible tea in a pink plastic cup or read books from her imagination?  A younger toddler would reach for him with both arms, begging to be picked up while baby twins would giggle and smile.  But, only for a while…..

My father will be here to celebrate his only great-grandson’s first birthday.  My son and daughter-in-law are having a small, barn-themed children’s party with a petting zoo.  Nothing big… a few baby animals.  Pink piglets with yellow fluffy chicks behind a fence of white.  Although, I do think there may be a woolly lamb that kids can actually touch with anxious little hands.

Recently, I told my father about his great-grandson’s birthday party while we chatted over the phone.  “Petting Zoo?” he stumbled, never having heard the term before.

It’s the little things I miss about having my dad so near.  It took me at least five minutes to explain the definition of a Petting Zoo.  And, just when I thought he understood, jokes came jostling over the line.  My dad has a very dry sense of humor.   Oftentimes, only his grown children can begin to understand it!

Below is an example of the conversation that followed.

“Wait a minute,” Dad said.  “A ‘Petting Zoo?  I don’t get it.  Will the kids be riding the lamb?”

“No, Dad,” None of the kids will be riding the lamb.

“Is there a small saddle, just in case?”

“I don’t think so,” I answered, chuckling. 

Sigh.  “Then, what does the lamb do?

“Nothing, Dad.  It’s for children to pet,” I answered, firmly. 

“Pet?”  What good is that?”

“Kids love animals, Dad.  They like to pet them.”

“They do?” he asked, as if he didn’t know.

“Yes, Dad.  I’ve got to go.”

“Okay, Honey.  Sure am looking forward to seeing you!  Hey, don’t worry about the saddle.  They’ve got them all over Phoenix.  I’ll ask around and bring one that will fit that little lamb, just right.”

“Okay, Dad, you do that.  Love you.”

“Love you too, Honey.  See you soon!”

*As my oldest grand-daughter would say, “Silly Great-Grandpa!”

 

 

A “Fishy” Imagination


Mommy said, “Go to bed!”  Hurry up, can’t stay up, little girl must brush pearl teeth. Quick, comb your hair.  Climb each stair we’re almost there.  Under covers tucked right in. Kiss on cheek with book to read.  Turn the page…look!  Lots of kids with more like me. Night-night now, close the door.  Moonlight shines on wooden floor.  Tiny thump with four paws down.  Darkness fades around her bed, light bulb flashes in my head.  “Get up!  Get UP! GET UP RIGHT NOW,” my mewing said!  She stirs and wrestles.  POOF! Plump pillows push floating feathers to play with me.  Soon, I hear her breathing even and steady.  “Wait….I’m not ready!”  Open a window, slink down trellis, green with waxy vines.  Careful and quiet don’t cause a riot.  Mommy sleeping, daddy too, stars are waiting with hilltop seat for me.  There it is, way up in the darkness of the sky.  Twinkling lights dance to form a picture. “Do you see what I see?”  A tasty dessert for me to eat.  My imaginary bedtime treat!Beautiful Night Sky Wallapers (19)

Cheers to Fall!


Recently, my family made a day visiting a local “Pumpkin Patch,” strollers and diaper bags in hand.  There, a whole Fall Fairground surrounded us of sorts.  Acres full of hanging fruit trees, big red barns and rows of tall, curled cornstalks colored in cream greeted us everywhere our eyes could see.  Scents of mulled cider wafted through the air together with funnel cakes and caramel corn.   Frolicking fun for everyone!

Under trees of colored leaves, Mommies held sticky hands of toddlers munching on crunchy apples dribbling juice-so-sweet.  Daddies carried bouncing babies on backs of sweatshirts rooting for favorite baseball teams.  And, children in all sizes wearing denim chased an old shaggy dog among rolling acres of an aged family orchard farm.

Together, the five of us took turns cuddling three babes, ages five months to 2 years.  Sitting on splintered wooden boards, we watched infant piglets run races behind straw bales of golden hay.  Faster and faster their mini legs ran.  This little piggy went, “Wee, Wee, Wee.”   Round and Round….who would win?  Wait to see!  A prize for everyone under three!!

Next we went to feed scraggly goats, precious calves and wooly white lambs fenced off in wires of metal grey.  “Look my innocents, watch Grandma now,” I said, holding hands with palms so flat.  Before a flash, a crowd of hungry mouths with teeth so big and wide came to crash!  Nibbled from tentative palms holding crumbled kibble in toasty brown, tongues larger than life lapped faster than quarters could buy.

At the end of the day, grandbabies played in mounds of hay.  Snap!  Magic moments happened within the click of a thumb and forefinger.  Teeny feet jumped in scattered piles oh-so-soft and oh-so-tall.  Giggles from deep could be heard for miles around.  “Poof!”  High into the sky.  Bits and pieces flew everywhere, like confetti on New Year’s Eve!  Arms of pink reached up with itty-bitty hands.  High, higher still.  Floating down, straws of corn-yellow in slow motion.  One…two…three, right by me.

Leaves sparkled in whispering trees.  Golden yellow, burnt orange and sizzling red.  Crisp and curling at edges.  Some falling.  Sunshine warmed faces through breezes from beryl-blue skies above.  Toys were not needed here.  Sippy cups tipped in unison.  Life so good.  Cheers!!  Ahhhhh…..