a walk with paradise


Moss On Sidewalk

“Why do people claim all boys like the color blue, and all girls like the color pink? It isn’t true.”

My daughter is asking me. She’s holding my hand; her other is engaged in walking my mother’s dog, whom we have for the next week while his owner buries her toes in a Mexican beach somewhere. The three of us are on a walk. Kind of a long one.

I tell my daughter, now: “Well, I have an answer. It’s kind of long. Do you still want to hear it?” She tells me Yes.

I tell her, you know basically, historically, people have a tendency to oppress one another. I ask her if she knows what this means. She says Yes. We talk about this for a bit. I tell her one way people can feel justified in their worldview is to believe those oppressed are less human, or categorically separate. I say it comforts some people to make up reasons one group of human beings is innately different than the other. I tell her some more of what I’ve seen. I make sure to qualify it is not all people who do this in every regard, but that most of us have learned to do it unconsciously. She brings up her father. She tells me he is someone who does not oppress women. I tell her Yes, and No… sometimes he makes mistakes. I remember aloud when she was little(r) and he began to refuse to help her clean her body in the bath because she had a female body, even though he continued to help his son. She nods, not necessarily remembering this, but getting my point.

I tell her anyone can make mistakes.

She’s thinking about her body, and her brother’s. She says, “But we’re not that different. Just a little bit. Like how our fingerprints are unique. Like tiger stripes.”

Enlightenment. Incredible! “Do tigers have unique stripe patterns?” I ask. Miracles.

“Oh yes!” she says, brightening with the typical enthusiasm she feels for the world of fauna.

We walk for a while.

I continue, because I feel her expectation. “So, when people believe men and women are socially different in ways irrefutably tied to biology, that’s called oppositional sexism. And when people decide the traits associated with men are superior to those associated with women, that’s called androcentrism.”

She’s with me. All the way.

I say, “You know how some people value physical strength over emotional strength?”

She says Yeah.

Then she adds, “One time in the mine in the backyard, P. couldn’t pull something out of the pit, so I did it. I was strong enough to do it. After I did it he said, ‘Thanks for doing that. I tricked you, and now you’re my slave.'”

A beat. Then, I say, “That’s one hundred percent bullshit.”

“Yeah,” my daughter agrees.

My eyes sting behind my sunglasses. She is so incredible. I often can’t remember our conversations verbatim enough to log them, to write them all out just how good they are. I tell myself it is wonderful enough just to have this time with her, the real experience is now, in the moment, not later, although I am always so pleased to continue journalling.

We walk together for a while.

At her request, we stop at a nursery. While observing koi in a pond, she hears frogs in one of the greenhouses.

She catches frogs, so carefully, so swiftly. She speaks to them and when she releases them she says, “I’ll see you soon.”

Tree Frog On Taro Leaf

Phoenix Handles A Tree Frog

After the first frog she’s figured out some way to handle them where they sit, placid, in her hand.

Trust

She encourages me to hold one. I am terrified. They seem so fragile, yet so startling in their jump! She finally convinces me to hold one. It turns and regards her while I take a picture.

My Frog Experiment

The proprietor of the business joins us eventually and shares lots of helpful and interesting facts about native frogs. Then he demonstrates the grownup-typical chastisement of my daughter for being a human being while small – don’t catch the frogs, don’t step there, blah blah.

My daughter doesn’t seem to mind. So I figure I shouldn’t either.

We continue on our way, stopping at the Farmer’s Market to buy a bunch of daffodils for a sad friend, and a bird of prey coloring book for my daughter.

Then along the wet and angry river and to home.

Secret Frog

buck-tastic

Spooky Fog

Weather today turned surreal and beautiful in the evening after a warm and softly-sunny day. I love our climate most the year – except for boughts of weather-related mild depression during particularly rainy and dark episodes, most of which occur in February and March – and each season seems more thrilling than the last. For now: warmth with a perfect fall coolness plucking at the sleeves now and then; brilliantly-colored leaves, more lush greenery than can be expressed via photograph. The air itself is deep and rich and green.

Today we borrowed my mother’s van and on my return walk with Phoenix the fog rolled in, bringing a closeness and quietude. My daughter and I took a scenic route home on the train tracks.

Perfect Walking Weather

Tracks

We ran across a deer on the way back just after crossing 5th Street (you can barely make out his form above at mid-right). He vanished into the woods as we got about fifteen feet away. Later on we looked back and he’d re-emerged, looking after us. I turned and walked toward him out of curiosity and saw he’d returned to his doe, who I’d passed on her left without seeing her.  He was a very handsome fellow and I regret I didn’t get a better photograph.

Beautiful

It was a perfect walk and wonderful company to share it with.

Ralph got home just as we arrived; he scrubbed the carrots we’d scrumped from my mom’s garden and put in the pot of slow-cooked meatballs I’d prepared ahead and cooked up some green beans and sliced up apples and pears. The children devoured dinner with much gusto, enough Ralph and I almost laughed out loud at their enthusiasm.

And now, a digestive and time to relax with cats and family members.

Update: Kit took lovely pictures of our walk the other day (post-dentist trip). You can see more in her Flickrstream.

DSCN1822

getting over that hump

It’s 5:12 PM and I’m irritated. I’m irritated because it’s taken us a bit longer than I’d thought to walk across the bridge. I’m irritated that despite the sign on the Public Market proclaiming hours until 6, they close down an hour earlier, and I can see the two cars pulling out and away and: I’m irritated because I was counting on some meager produce earnings from the Market to get me a bus pass because (Irritation #3) the kids and I ended up on an overly-ambitious walk (made so because of duration coupled with the amount of exercise we’d had previously this day and our lack of food and water and means to get them). Accepting our loss at least today of lettuce-money now I know that if I want to catch a bus home I have to grab the kids up and cross the street in front of blasting log trucks and wait in a chilly wind God knows how long before a bus comes along and at at that point I’ll have to beg off on 15 cents I don’t have to complete our bus fare (and the drivers around here might even say No – I’m serious). In this moment I notice the kids have found and are enjoying the very, very poor excuse for a playground that is alongside the Market and I know they won’t like abandoning the “park” for this half-assed bus plan but neither should they have to walk all the way home and you know what? It’s my decision, my responsibility, to figure out what to do.

I give into the moment and sit in the grass and let the children play. They don’t know it, but it’s a dismal day, the kind of grey soul-swallowing bleakness that gave Aberdeen such notoriety the Kurt Cobain set (many of them not raised here) often cite. Alongside the river and I’m walking and I know how to dig in my feet and survive, burrowing down into my jacket and being as patient with the kids as I can and hoping for a more promising tomorrow. After all, I have things to look forward to: friends coming over for dinner. The cough syrup nap at night (sadly, still necessary). A day closer to the weekend, where Ralph and I try to enjoy our time together.

This morning the first thing I did to try to make myself feel better than I had yesterday was bake a rhubarb cake and do the dishes. Housework is soothing; I’d enjoy it in perfect bliss if it weren’t on a Rinse-Repeat cycle many times daily (ironically: it was having children that made me overcome my dislike of housework). We did have some excitement yesterday: the first hatchlings in our incubating chicken eggs. One died (in my hands – second bird in a month?), two have survived – we now have ten living entities in this house. I know cats and rats and chickens don’t count for much by some yardsticks but feeding and cleaning up for them kind of does, especially along with my much more messy and complex (but it must be said, far more rewarding) human younglings. Our cat Harris is pleased with the chicks; he offers his nannying skills regularly although we repeatedly defer.

Tomorrow: city park free lunch program (at my son’s request), a date with Jasmine, and Try #2 for gardening proceeds.

it was a brilliant, clear, and lovely day today

Today I was blessed with many things. Not just time with my most loved ones, ever – and also fresh air and exercise and good coffee. Most of all: walking home after picking up Sophie it was streaming sun and the sky was laden with puffy, white clouds accompanied by a few glowering dark ones. And predictably out of this rose a rainbow; a brilliant, vibrant presence that inspired its own shallow doppelganger just above it. I listened to my children’s delighted descriptions and a block later we were met by Harris the Fierce Not-So-Kitten; he follows us most of the way to school these days then disappears a block a or so from the final destination. Then on our return he prounces up to us out of whatever yard he took to exploring that day, running ahead and behind and inspiring liquid giggles from the kids.

It must have been a special day because only a few blocks later cross-traffic commenced with the Coleman Mortuary’s hearse (a new one, it looks like) passing by up the hill to the cemetery. A caravan of twenty more cars followed, fresh from rain and transitioning from the service to the burial. The faces in the cars, some are sad, some are happy, some preoccupied, some are tear-stained and devastated. I watched them all as we waited the cars out and I answered the questions the children asked. Harris hid in the tree behind us and then, when we crossed, darted after us on hunter’s paws to skid ahead of us into our front yard.