Wednesday, May 14, 2014

... in medias res ...

Two boys are splayed out on a seventies shag-like carpet of grass and dandelions and dirt - mostly dirt.  They are gently poking, investigating - memorizing even - a large, long-established ant colony at the edge of a bed surrounding old and tired Rose of Sharon bushes.  The mulch is years old and the ants have a warm, cozy home near the house, nestled in the old roots of the bushes that brush softly and fragrantly against the screen of a tired porch on a tired house on a muggy May evening.

Seconds previous to this moment a clipboard and paper had been acquired and the two curious first time entomologists are discussing the field notes they will take, wondering aloud sweetly if they should disturb the nest, how deep the queen might be and how funny and clever one particular ant seems to them.

"Have fun with ANTS!  Visit Ants."

None of these details matter, in this moment, they are focus and wonder and holiness and future - dirty-kneed, filthy-handed, Gatorade-stained messy grace.

Two heads close together, four hands on the familiar marker stained table, an open craft box, a pile of paper, a singular vision:

I am sure there is no need the explain that in the center is a pig named "Jhavou" who has just won the pig division of the Flying Pig Marathon here in The Queen City.  He is standing in front of the winged, golden trophy surrounded by his good friends and trainers Zack and Nick on what I understand is a pitcher's mound.  His first place certificate and winning check seem to be catching fire.

Again these details don't matter, and, honestly, I um, well, sorta made them up.  Not all of them... his check is on fire.  But, two boys are sharing their imagination, collaborating willingly and happily.  That don't happen overnite, years of time past and years of time to come will only tell the whole story here.  But, I sure like the middle of it.  Perfect in fact.

From the middle of a pile of schoolwork destined for the recycling bin flutters out a piece of paper.  It is a page synonyms, I'd say - front and back:

It's cute and helpful.  (The plane and plain one is my favorite.  A couple of dangling cabbages seem to make a "plain" dress "fancy.")  I have shared this sort of thing here and it stands alone just fine.  However, we are right in the middle of Nick's struggle with, and learning to use, the words he loves and savors so.  It is no secret that he doesn't always spell well, but here, did you notice, it is all correct.  Understanding that there are things to be understood is an important part of our journey and sometimes we see the first sparks of it - shaped by what was and shaping what is yet to come.  And igniting the checks of pig marathoners.

I nearly typed "my point is" which always cracks me up.  Next I considered "the point is" as if there was ever an actual point to anything.  I also considered "if I had a point it would be" which is even more laughable.  I'll just let this bit about what I might have written suffice as a transitional paragraph.

This all started when I saw the corner of this note to myself shoved up under a tottering pile of other notes and blog fodder from the boys:

"It's difficult to tell the story when you are right in the middle of it," and penciled in there is "Hope + Fear" and I am not sure what's scribbled out.  It is hard to see the whole story at times.  A story of fear may be, ultimately, a story about the importance of hope and, in the worst of stories, hope is obliterated by fear... I know that one.

For the most part I like starting and being in the middle of things.  It gives you two choices - make up a story to frame the moment or wait and find out more.  Either way is fun.

I did make one more note as I was working on this today:
You can tell the feeling in the middle of things, though.

I know the boys were happy and confident as they watched the ants do their work - as I once was when I spent that evening watching the ants of my own childhood.  I also know the exhilaration and happiness that silliness and creativity bring - and sometimes forget that I was once happier and sillier.  I have known - and I am still finding out - the deep comfort that knowing there are things to know can bring.  It is anticipation - Hope.

What's that?  No, no that is not a quote by Gary Busey.  That would be stupid... Oh, alright it is and here's what I plan to do with it.

Something that Marci did not hear in the backseat nor link to her Facebook page:

"The sun setting over the ocean makes an exclamation point in reverse."

- Gary Busey

I find it in the right spirit of things today though, and, it's one of those things you read and think, why did I never notice that, and, how on earth did Gary ...

(I actually think it's lovely.)

That's all for today.  Well, almost.  Over on the top right of my page here is a new widget.  John Kinnear at Ask Your Dad Blog installed it for me and I don't know why people are so damn nice, thanks, John.   From what I gather if you put your e-mail address in there, perform a magic trick (or decipher one of those letter thingees, which I suck at) and confirm it in your e-mail, (sigh) it will send you a message whenever I post something new here.  Facebook is limiting my reach and, frankly, many of you aren't being notified when I post something new.  Do it only if your interested, it's harmless and, well, I'd like you to keep stopping by.  Thanks for coming today, I appreciate it.

I wish I had a T-shirt with this "hair" guy on it.  I love him...


  1. I marvel at these type of posts which you often do. Your boys are so creative and have interesting imaginations.
    Btw, I would not worry all that much about spelling - spell check is there. I wouldn't want their creativity dampened over this. I sound like a teacher - right?

  2. I love the imagery of the ants... one of my favorite things to do as a kid. Now a days when we see ants, it's carpenter ants, and we have the insecticide out. :(

    As for the guy with hair... there are companies that will put him on a t-shirt for you. :)

  3. I'll be honest, normally I skim through posts to try and get the jist of them (with a few notable exceptions) simply because I don't seem to have much time. So I initially skimmed this, got lost, jumped back a bit and then gave up skimming and read it properly from the start.

    It's a great post, a reminder to stop, look and think about what is going on around us. From your kids taking the time to explore the life of the ants (or Aunts?) in the garden and taking the time to look at the kids "scrap" bits of paper unless we take the time we miss so much. My kids like yours have a great imagination and regularly produce reams of bits of paper with scrawlings; club membership rules, stories, plans to catch a boy, art books and the latest is a movie book (don't ask me what they are up to there I haven't a clue). I'll have to try and take the time a bit more to stop and see what's going on around me a bit more too.