Childhood is a mystery: the soul is timeless, the body new, and the world complex. What a conjunction: the great unfolding in the small.
Childhood asks us what reality really is, what the world is, and where it came from. Childhood asks where life came from, and where it goes. Does the soul exist? Where was the soul before birth? How many realms are there? Are fairies real? Do ghosts and spirits exist? Why are some people lucky and others unlucky, why is there suffering? Why are we here? Are there more things in the innocent-seeming world than we can see? These are some of the questions that the state of childhood asks, and which perplex us all our days.
Childhood is an enigma, a labyrinth, an existential question, a conundrum. It is the home of all the great questions about life and death, reality and dream, meaning and purpose, freedom and society, the spiritual and the secular, nature and culture, education and self-discovery.
That without suspecting it you should send me the preferred flower of life, seems almost supernatural, and the sweet glee that I felt at meeting it, I could confide to none. I still cherish the clutch with which I bore it from the ground when a wondering Child, an unearthly booty, and maturity only enhances the mystery, never decreases it.
~ Emily Dickinson
(Letter to Mabel Loomis Todd, September 1882)
“The preferred flower of life” Emily is referring to is the Indian pipe, a ghostly flower with no chlorophyll. Like Emily, I was captivated by Indian pipes as a child, whenever I found them while playing in the woods. Native to New England, the flowers are about 3/4 of an inch long, and bloom from June to September. In one of her poems, Emily compares it to a spirit: “‘Tis whiter than an Indian Pipe -” (#1513)
My father has been in the hospital this month with a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot in his lung. He is too old (91) and too frail to tolerate a treatment with clot busters, so the doctor is opting for a conservative treatment with blood thinners. Time will tell if this will be helpful or not. Now that he is home he is hooked up to oxygen around the clock. It’s been a very stressful time for all of us, and I’ve spent many hours at Dad’s bedside, leaving Tim here to cope with his terminally ill brother.
These Indian pipes were growing near Dad’s house in the woods, and the sight of them stirred up some pleasant childhood memories for me. I put the camera on the ground for this shot and was delighted with the results! A bug’s eye view!
Cows are amongst the gentlest of breathing creatures; none show more passionate tenderness to their young, when deprived of them; and, in short, I am not ashamed to profess a deep love for these quiet creatures.
~ Thomas de Quincey
(Confessions of an English Opium-Eater)
At Buttonwood Farm, 14 acres of sunflowers are grown to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Connecticut, a non-profit organization devoted to making wishes possible for children with life-threatening medical conditions. 100% of the $5 donation made when one buys a bouquet of these sunflowers goes directly to the foundation, a worthy cause.
Tim & I spent a pleasant afternoon there, even if it was hot and humid, meeting cows and taking a tractor ride through the sunflower field! We enjoyed our cheerful bouquet on our dining room table for the week following.
I have the sunflower, in a way.
~ Vincent van Gogh
(Letter to Theo van Gogh, January 22, 1889)
June 23, 2013, Montville, Connecticut
The Dinosaur Place
While Nate & Shea were in Connecticut for the wedding, we also spent a fun day at an outdoor Dinosaur Place with them and their nephews. It was very hot so we were glad to be in the woods most of the time, and enjoyed watching the kids play on the splash pad after our long dinosaur walk.
I don’t know the names of these dinosaurs, but Dominic knows ALL of them and he’s only 4 years old! It was fun seeing this lost world through the eyes and imaginations of the little ones.
These are my maternal grandparents and I had never seen these pictures before Saturday. While Tim & I were out shopping, getting ready for our daughter’s wedding, my cousin was scanning and sending some pictures he found of our grandparents in their younger years. Only today did I notice that June 8, Saturday, was their birthday. Thank you so much, Matthew, for remembering!
Grandfather was born June 8, 1905, and Grandmother was born June 8, 1906. They were married 30 November 1929. I never knew my grandfather smoked a pipe – but I always knew he was a perfect gentleman! The dog was their beloved pet, Honey.
Above are my grandparents and their two children, my mother and my uncle.
It’s hard to make them out, but my grandparents and uncle are sitting on the stone wall and my mother is in the canoe. I see her passion for canoeing started in her childhood. She took us canoeing often when my sister and I were children. I’m in a very sentimental, wistful, thoughtful mood this week – five days before the wedding!
“Young Peasant Woman with Three Children at the Window”
by Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller
I don’t mean to belittle the accomplishments of those whose names we memorize for tests and whose statues we admire. I just think it’s time to make a little room for the rest of our ancestors – and I’m happy to report that this is already happening. You never had to be famous, rich, or educated to leave a trace, but unless you were, you tended to be overlooked. But now, that’s all beginning to change, and at the vanguard of this democratization of history is the humble genealogist.
~ Megan Smolenyak
(Hey, America, Your Roots Are Showing)
Soon the child’s clear eye is clouded over by ideas and opinions, preconceptions and abstractions. Simple free being becomes encrusted with the burdensome armor of the ego. Not until years later does an instinct come that a vital sense of mystery has been withdrawn. The sun glints through the pines, and the heart is pierced in a moment of beauty and strange pain, like a memory of paradise. After that day we become seekers.
~ Peter Matthiessen
(Visionaries: The 20th Century’s 100 Most Important Inspirational Leaders)