The Hike

Never so weary, never so in woe,
Bedabbled with the dew, and torn with briers;
I can no further crawl, no further go;
My legs can keep no pace with my desires. – A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream

We were all ready for our first hike of the trip, or so we thought.  We had our layers on, our camelbak packs with water, sturdy shoes, bug spray and  granola snacks packed away.  Jenny Lake has several trails of varying difficulties.  I started out with my trusty walking sticks and my much younger family members.  It was a gorgeous hike, and a beautiful lake with the Grand Tetons in the background.

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Connor and Alexa at Jenny Lake.

I immediately fell behind the rest of the group, which didn’t surprise me.  I went as far as I could, taking pictures along the way, resting when needed. When the trail began to ascend, I was struggling and when I caught up with my family, I decided to return to the Visitor Center and wait for them to finish the trail.  It was a good call.  They returned about an hour later after completing the loop and assured me that my decision had been a good one.

“You would have never made it Grandma!”  laughed Alexa.

There was plenty to keep me busy at the Visitor’s Center; great displays to learn more about the mountains and a gift shop to pick up a few souvenirs.  And a bench for weary hikers to relax and rest for awhile.

You can't really take a bad picture out here.

You can’t really take a bad picture out here.

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Upper Geyser Basin

Lower Falls at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Lower Falls at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

There were many more hikes during the next two weeks.  I completed the Upper Geyser Basin trail  at Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park, at Colter Bay, and at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone to view the Lower Falls.  It really was a midsummer’s dream come true.

Late Summer Corn

A field of corn on the east side of my home blocks my view.  The world is on the other side; out of sight and out of mind. Voices and sounds of cars and trucks are muffled. The unusual quietness surrounding the farm makes me feel safe, secure, and secluded.

This year, the corn crop struggled to get to this height…it was a wet season with frequent flooding, which left the corn yellow and pale and resembling a roller coaster frame spreading across the field.   The tall green stalks are starting to even out now; the tassels glow at dusk with a rusty hue as the breeze gently shakes loose the pollen.

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Corn is mysterious and magical; the way it sprouts from the ground and grows overnight.  The sweet smell of the leaves and the ears, especially after a rain shower on a hot summer afternoon.  When I am gone from home for a few days, it is the first thing I notice when I step out of my car…. sweet smells of growth and greenery.

Watching the corn stalks mature is fascinating.   The tassels sprinkle the pollen onto the silk of the ears, each silky strand creating a kernel as the ears lengthen and swell; a process that makes a simple plant almost spiritual.   This part of the growing season is my favorite.  It gives way to the final maturing of the crop when the stalks turn brown, the kernels grow and harden, and the seclusion is lost.  As the gentle breeze stirs the crunchy leaves and creates new sounds of rustling and cracking, it creates a bit of uneasiness like someone sneaking up behind you.

The Fall

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photo prompt by Rochelle Wisoff-FIelds.

The throbbing continued and echoed through her ears.  She slowly opened her eyes.  Everything was out of focus. Directly above was a huge…. spider?  bird?

A light fixture.  She felt the cold marble against her bare legs and began to shiver. A warm fluid-like pillow surrounded her head soaking into her hair.

Soft whispery cries were coming from somewhere.

Baby Amelia!  Her thoughts began to collect as she slowly turned her head and saw her daughter on the floor nearby, kicking her legs and waving her arms.

A sense of relief filled her body and the blackness covered her face.

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Doing the Best I Can

Like most mothers. I continually doubt every decision I have ever made for my children.  Should I have done this?   What if I had decided this?  I wish I would have….

My children are all grown and I now have grandchildren.  One of those is almost grown.  So why this feeling of insecurity?  Is it normal?  Are there moms out there somewhere that know they have made the right decisions every time?

I doubt it.  We are moms, which is a monumental task and we are human so we make mistakes.  As a working mom, while my kids were growing up, I felt guilty all the time.  I was too busy, I couldn’t be a room mother because I was at work, I got frustrated when they wouldn’t go to sleep because I still had so much to do.

Despite my successes and failures as a mom, my three children have turned into respectful and responsible adults. They are doing well with their own children and with their partners.  I am so proud of each of them.

Wishing all mothers a guilt-free, stress-free day full of love.

Losing a Friend

     I walked to my front window after hearing the news.  As I looked out at the beautiful sunset, I thought of Nancy.   The sky was on fire with yellow-gold, orange, pink, and purple streaks topped with layers of fluffy white clouds.  Everything was calm and quiet.  I smiled and thought, Calm and quiet were not words that described my friend.

     We first met at school.  She had been there a few years and was experienced.  I was beginning my second year of teaching.  She was the first grade teacher and I was teaching the primary special education students.  The year was 1973 and there was no inclusion. My principal told me up front the first day of school, he didn’t know what to do with my kids but if I needed help, some of the other teachers would be of assistance.  

     And that’s where Nancy came in.  I didn’t even have to ask her.   I didn’t even know WHAT to ask her.  I was floundering and she sensed it.  Or maybe that’s just what Nancy always did to help out new teachers.   She dragged me down to the office one day a few days before school started and showed me where all the supplies were; even the ones we weren’t supposed to know about.  She showed me her room and supplies (there were many) and said Help yourself. She showed me the work area where papers could be “run off”  on the mimeograph machine and she taught me how to operate it.  And then she showed me how to get the ink off of my hands, fingers, and blouses.  A few weeks after school started, she invited my entire class to her classroom for storytime.  It became a weekly event. Sometimes we watched a TV show, or worked on an art project, or played a game of Seven Up.  I doubt she ever realized what a difference those invitations made to the students in my class…students who didn’t fit in well and were not always accepted by others.

     Nancy was one-of-a-kind, almost childlike in her enthusiasm which was why first grade was a perfect fit for her.  She was like a mother hen to all of her students; hugging them when they needed a hug, pulling and celebrating her students’ baby teeth, doctoring up skinned knees, and reprimanding those kids that seemed to stay too long in the restroom.  I remember her trimming one young student’s hair. She had mentioned to the parents that he needed a haircut but nothing happened.  She was convinced that the student’s hair was preventing him from learning to read.  He couldn’t see the book with all that hair hanging down in his face.  So she got her scissors out and solved the problem.

     The comments I saw last night from her friends, students, and colleagues mentioned kindness and a passion for what she did.  She had a deep faith in God. There was not a mean bone in her body.  She met whatever came into her path with kindness and determination. She had struggled once with cancer and won.  This time it was not meant to be.

Melanie, a friend, colleague, and mother to one of Nancy’s students of long ago said it best: “The world is a sorrier place having said goodbye to Nancy.  Heaven, on the other hand, is lighting up with joy.”

That must have been what was happening as I watched the sunset from my front window.