Meandering Thoughts on a COOL, Cloudy Morning

A few years ago in a flea market in town or just out of town or in that twilight zone of small town America where houses vie with tractor repair, Mexican restaurants and grain cellars for zoning rights I bought a book of Song Dynasty landscape poetry. It’s a beautiful book. Right there on the cover (and which I never noticed until now) is that the poems were translated by Tagore. It’s funny how the obvious either escapes us completely or just doesn’t register. I thumbed through the book this morning looking for expressions from the poet beans who are now thriving. I found a bunch of poems I never read before written by poets with whom I was unfamiliar. Maybe my beans are telling me they are from a more recent dynasty than Li Bai, Tu Fu, et al and it’s time for me to expand my horizons.

Teddy with the beans

The hot spell has broken and today is supposed not even to reach 70F. The dogs are friskier, and I’m more relaxed. Yesterday the wind kicked up in the early evening, so the dogs and I went out for a ramble. It was lovely and eerie. Smoke from fires all around, north and west of us, have obscured the sky for the past few days. I could see only dim shapes of the San Juans and no sign at all of the more distant Sangre de Cristos. The air was filled with the fragrance of clover — yellow, white and pink. The bugs were kept at bay by the wind, though a couple of doughty deer-flies made an effort to attack.

On our way out, we were stopped by a guy in a pick-up with a serious birding telescope who wanted me to see a white-faced ibis in the distant pond. For human contact, that’s one of the sweeter things that happens. He and his wife are “birding” down here as a break from the big city (Denver). We had a lovely chat about dogs, birds, Denver. He asked the nicest question a birder can ask, “Do you have a bird book?”

I lied and said I did. I was really afraid he’d give me his bird book.

I was too far away to really SEE the ibis but I saw its large brown shape.

I had a conversation (chat) with my step-daughter-in-law, S, a couple nights ago. It’s my step-grandson’s (we’ll call him Bill) birthday today, the same as my dad’s birthday. She told me that the little guy is having problems “re-emerging” from COVID restrictions. Bill should be in pre-school this coming fall but will he be able to go? He is descended from extremely shy people — beyond shy, actually. His great-aunt was so traumatized by humanity she ended up in an institution. The good X (his grandfather) struggled — maybe still struggles — against this. My stepson, also, still “hides behind trees,” as S said the other night.

I recently read an opinion/thought piece in a local magazine Colorado Central Magazine. The author – Ed Berg -wrote a meandering piece the referred to the fossilized footprints of the little girl and a toddler in White Sands National Park, footprints left over from the Ice Age which mastodons, giant sloths, Smilodons and wolves wandered the area.

“Some 12,000 years ago [during the Ice Age], in what is White Sands National Park, a teenage girl left her footprints along the muddy edge of a playa. The prints show she was carrying a small chid on her hip, stopping from time to time to adjust her load. We don’t know where she was going or the purpose of her journey, but she was walking quickly, about 4mph, in spite of her burden and small size. A few hours later she returned along the same path, apparently still carrying the child. In the meantime, some large animals had crossed her trail, but her tracks show that she was not concerned about them; they weren’t predators…”

(Ed Berg, “Life in the Upper Ark,” Colorado Central Magazine July 2021)

I thought all day about Bill, and how I could write a story that would tell him that the enemy of fear is knowledge, and because this little girl KNEW her world and how to be aware within it, she could scurry out there with a little sister or brother on a mysterious errand. I would have her tell Bill the secret to courage; the more we understand about how things work in our immediate world, the more we understand about how to live in it. I would have her tell Bill that life is dangerous, but it’s more dangerous not to venture out.

Maybe the toddler the young girl carried was hurt or ill and she needed to find the “local” “doctor” to help her little brother or sister. Maybe part of the lesson for little Bill would be that knowledgable risks taken for others are an important part of being human. All I have so far is the moral of the story. “Fear tells us nothing. Knowledge is the enemy of fear.”

In the story, of course, Bill would suddenly appear in the Ice Age which would have to be weird and scary, too, and he’d return to his pretty suburban, midwestern home with a new perspective on safety. ❤

I dunno… Just a trickle of an inspiration.

The featured photo is a bank of milkweed out at the Refuge. I’m sure they are full of monarch butterfly caterpillars.

24 thoughts on “Meandering Thoughts on a COOL, Cloudy Morning

  1. This is going to seem random but I work at the Little Snake River Museum in Savery, WY. We wanted to talk to you about helping us layout and print a book. If you would be interested then please let me know.

  2. If Bill is anything like my grandson Vince, just the mastodons and other creatures will draw him in to the story. You could always record it too, as a fun way to share with him.

    • Recording it is a brilliant idea. Bill loves all animals, dinosaurs and probably mastodons, too. He is the proud owner of a very beautiful tarantula. 🙂

  3. I’m so glad you did not forget to post about this (well, it was only a few days ago you mentioned it…).What a very cool story. The moral of that story is something we have in common with the Ice Age humans (girl power too! 🙂) – wow. Who knew? Knowledge comes to everyone so differently – sometimes if at all to a certain extent – maybe that explains why fear perseveres in some more than others. I like your trickle of inspiration for Bill. And recording it is an excellent idea.

    • I wrote it. Just a draft. 🙂 I think (it’s a theory) that fear perseveres when people are less open minded and generous of heart. I think those two qualities lead to courage. I know it’s true of me and rattlesnakes, anyway, generally when the desire to learn something becomes stronger than the urge to protect something. Then I think people are more willing to take intelligent risks. I learned today that some of the idiots who stormed the capitol thought it was the White House.

      • A draft is a start! 🙂 I think about fear a lot these days. Dealing with people in the situation I’m in (running the condo board) – I see it manifest into anger, nastiness and avoidance behaviors. I’ve never seen it concentrated like this. Maybe it’s the age group. Or the pandemic and its aftermath. I try to provide information to depersonalize things. Sometimes that helps. But fear! It can take over…unless, as you say, you develop courage. I had not heard about the idiots thinking the capitol was the White House. That’s crazy.

        • yet. Not knowing the capitol from the White House is pretty out there. These guys really thought they were taking the White House back for DJT. Last year WAS truly scary. It certainly changed me. I’m not more afraid, but I am definitely less interested (avoidance?). I’m also angry, impotently angry. I figure it will all go away (my emotional deal) sooner or later so I’m just trying to stay chill and take things one day at a time. I can’t imagine trying to chair a condo board in these times, trying to get people to communicate and compromise when I’m sure a lot of people feel like I do and maybe haven’t even recognized that yet.

          • Last year was nightmarish in so many ways. I think it has changed everyone to some extent. It’s been a challenge for me, to say the least, to try to bring people together in a community with such diverse backgrounds and beliefs. Not so much the board, but everyone else. Communication is step one. Not easy. It will take time, but I am trying to think positive!

  4. Lovely post, Martha. Thank you for continuing to write each day. Your posts and Lois’ photos are the hhighlight of my day.
    I love the garden photo. Your little patch has blossomed over the last two years. It reminds me of Savior. A most wonderful book.
    I feel for young Bill. Stories and books are wonderful teachers. I am sure he would love the story of the Ice Age children. It would be a far better resource than the twisted interpretations of some other very popular books.

  5. This reminds me of a set of footprints they found in the Serengeti from some awesome span of time ago. One was larger, probably a male the other was smaller, probably a female. The interesting thing was that despite the side difference, the stride length was the same. From this they concluded the two were intentionally matching their strides. Maybe holding hands?

    Even more interesting were the smaller prints, much smaller than either adult, yet carefully stepping in the bigger males tracks.

    Families go back a very long ways.

  6. Martha,I love your description of the day and the things around you that you see and notice. Your post is so wonderfully. I feel as if I am standing next to you in the misty air, smelling the clover and the smoke and hearing the panting of teddy.
    We have had very heavy rain for a few days, it’s almost scary. We live by a river, but fortunately on top of a hill. The townhouses in the valley are already in the water and the roads down into the valley are closed.
    Martha, I wish you all the best! 🌹
    Rosie from Germany

    • It’s a harsh weather summer everywhere. Parts of the US that are ALWAYS cool and rainy have had extreme heat and dryness. I wish there were a way to make people wake up and a walk to suddenly discover a solution to this immense problem. 😦

      I’ve visited Germany but only stuck my toe in, not enough to say I really visited Germany. I spent three nights in Munich on my way to Verona where I spent a month studying Italian. That was 2004 and Americans were so unpopular at that time, and I could speak Italian, so most people mistook me for a nice German woman traveling around. 🙂

  7. You don’t know how lucky you were with that lying. We give away birding books to anyone who’s interested. As for The Family, she’s given away two binoculars until now 🙂

    That book of Song Dynasty poets, I would like to trace a copy if I can. I didn’t know that Tagore had read and come across Chinese poetry. Do you have a photo of the cover and photos of the title or copyright pages?

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