Tuesday, August 5, 2014

starting small

Well.  My planned week away became two weeks away.  Two glorious weeks away.  Two weeks of adventures and gardening and reading and togetherness.

And I am anxious to get back to writing.  But at the same time to not move too far away from the quiet peacefulness we have created by being together so intensely.  And by quiet peacefulness I am including, or ignoring, the good natured until it is not good natured pestering and squabbling that often creeps into three children’s interactions with each other.  Because the intensity also offers the opportunity to speak to each other kindly, to talk things through, to listen, so those moments dissipate rather than expand.

I am a bit overwhelmed by where to start writing again.  There has been so much during these past few weeks.  So many moments.  So many photos.  It is hard to take it all in.  Or sum it all up.  

So, I am going to do what I did one moment in the middle of Acadia National Park.  This is a huge and majestic and expansive park of mountains meeting oceans, of lakes filling in the inland spaces between the mountains, and of wildness mixed with farms and charming shops and lovingly created crafts and food.  And it is, this time of year, full of gazillions of people.  Parking lots filled to bursting, cars waiting in lines to get a space once someone had taken their fill of the views and trails and water, and were ready to move on.  Into which the next car slips, doors spill open and passengers pour eagerly out.  So many mountains to hike, views to discover, paths to follow.  

As this park is large, made of so many parts, it can sometimes be hard to take a good look at the small things that make it up.  To look down around your feet and see just what it is that the landscape there is created by.

Looking at a small part closely or taking a moment apart from the whole experience there?  Perhaps the park's enormity is exactly what makes doing so possible. 

On a hike to a small off the beaten path peak to look out over the ocean and islands, we decided it was time to stop for lunch.  We knew it was time to stop because the whining and grumbling were getting difficult to ignore.  I spotted a patch of moss just off the trail and we plopped ourselves and our backpacks down onto it.  

I quickly started distributing food.  And moods became cheerier and energetic again.  Sandwiches are magical.  

And then Elliott lost a tooth in his crusty bread.  And giggled, because it fell out into the soft and spongy moss.  That tooth’s landing made us look down and really notice the moss around us.  Elliott had studied moss when he was in preschool and we all tried to remember the names of the different varieties of moss we were seeing.  Reindeer was one...and a few others.  

We spied six different varieties.  And we packed up and happily made the last steps up to the summit.

That moment in the shady mossy spot in the Downeast woods changed how all of us were looking around us.  We were still looking at the expansive views and the horizon.  But we were just as likely to be looking down at our feet.  Looking for the moss.  And the lichen.  And the mushrooms.  And noticing how a circle of stones was placed by nature just so to create the perfect place to sit and place one’s snack.  Or leap from one to another.  Or how the light that trickled through the high pine branches was shifting across the textured floor of the shady woods.  

While we were out bike riding on the carriage roads there, I found myself alone on the road for a few moments.

Jonathan and Nicholas were a ways back adjusting seats and chains.  And Elliott and Julia left their bikes with me and goofily ran back down the road to find them to see what was taking so long.

I looked down in that moment.  Around my feet.  

And started to notice the small things around me that I would have been wheeling by had it not been for that unruly chain on Nicholas' bike.

I started to notice the small things, when there were enormous clean and reflecting lakes just over there and mountains behind them.  Right here at my feet there were textures and colors and mosses and mushrooms and small things deserving as much notice as the sweeping views of where land meets water and large mountains rise above and reflect in lakes.

In a few moments, they were back.  Running toward me.  Well, really, running toward their bikes.

And then we were off again, leaving that small but carefully examined patch behind.

That ride.  Just after a morning of rain.  When we were considering leaving and heading home early just as the light changed and the day quite suddenly became brighter.  As that happened, Nicholas asked us to turn around and head back toward the carriage roads and get one more ride in, to get one more road explored.  

Where they could perfect their lollipop balancing on their ride as they glided around the next corner and out of my sight.

It is those small moments within something so very large that seem so much more important to me

And so, I am going to start small as I re-enter this space.  A small window into a large expanse of days.  Working moment by moment rather than trying to capture the whole.  It seems quite a metaphor for these days with children.

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