Tomorrow’s morning glories.

September 12, 2015 § 3 Comments

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We learn a lot in the course of a life, but much of it sits on the dusty back shelf of memory like winter mittens waiting for snow.

It took Matthew to remind me that I know what tomorrow’s morning glories look like, and that the best way to dust off that information was to share it with him.

IMG_9765I told him that today’s morning glories are wide open—but nothing is that simple.

The morning glories themselves reminded me that this is only true until the sun gets high and hot.

After that they look exactly like yesterday’s morning glories, which hang on the vine, bunched shut like draw-string purses.

But when we visited the vines growing on the fence at Matthew’s new house early in the morning the explanation was straightforward.

Open: today’s morning glories.

Puckered shut: yesterday’s.

Furled like umbrellas: tomorrow’s.

We’d walk along the fence pointing out tomorrow’s morning glories. We never found very many. Each day surprised us with the number of deep purple blooms that had come out of hiding while we slept.

The small black bees that visited them? Italian honey bees. “Don’t be scared of them,” I said. “They’re pretty docile.”

I’ve learned that by being alive too—which things to fear, which to respect.

IMG_9774Matthew reminded me that some things are worth watching for their own sake, like Italian honey bees.

Unaware of us, they bossed way into nearby turtlehead flowers, burrowing in until even their butts disappeared.

When they came out, all business, they rubbed the pollen off their faces with their forelegs before short-hopping to the next flower. We watched their disappearing-butt act over and over. We like the word butt.

At this time of year in New Jersey cicadas leave their shells attached by prickly feet to the bark of trees. I knew they came up out of the ground. I’d read it. But we found the holes.

We collected their sheds by the ghastly dozen, built Lego monuments and covered them with cicada shells climbing the stairs of what looked like step pyramids.

Not everyone found them as beautiful as we did.

IMG_9734A vague memory of why an inch worm is called an inch worm was not the same as having one inch across my palm.

You forget how tiny they are, how ambitious.

You forget, until you bump your hand together with a grandchild’s how they will inch from one hand to the next and how they will do that indefinitely (or until you get tired of it and let them inch onto a leaf).

Matthew reminded me to pay attention to the humble and small.

For Matthew, the best part of New York’s Museum of Natural History was found in the cracks between stone pavers on a terrace outside the museum. Under the moss, which was easy to dig out with a finger,  the damp earth contained tiny worms.

It was not enough to find one worm, and extrapolate the existence of more. Matthew wanted to see them all, each worm as thrilling as the first. We put them back in the cracks and pushed the moss back in, probably a little worse for wear.

IMG_9647Most of the time I was the stuffy museum guide rattling off facts.

Matthew was the pilgrim, stiff with excitement over each new thing he saw.

He gave wonder back to me, and I gave him names for the sights along the way.

Being with my grandson I realized, mindfulness is not as hard to achieve as I thought.

It is not deliberate or forced.

Mindfulness is watching an inchworm cross the infinitesimal gap between my hand and Matthew’s.

Note: The opening photo, shot by Granddad, is Matthew on the Sea Glass carousel in Battery Park. See the Picasso-like profile that is the negative space created by Matthew’s face?

 

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