Seeing my dad, brother, sister-in-law, and the little niece who calls me "Bookey" made a long trip more than worthwhile. Yesterday we wandered in the woods of the 10 acres my brother owns; bundled and thinsulated up to our eyes in fleece. They have the crystal cold gift of 500 feet of stream weaving through those woods. It was still moving in its deeper parts, even in 19 degree air. Smooth rocks and sand the color of tea below, and along the edges where Finnegan the cat followed us, the ice was woven in criss cross patterns, jutting out like a fortress of solitude.
I loved watching my little God-daughter, Ella, at one and a half years old, making her way through the balsam and oak. Of course "Bapa" carried her most of the way (that'd be my dad). Everything is a wonder to Ella; every leaf, stone and swirl of dark water garner a look and a touch and an "ooooohhh." If I got lost in thought myself, she'd call out "Bookey!" My wife is Becca, incidently.
Ella can identify at least a dozen birds by sight. She nailed a mourning dove just by its "mourn"ful cooing! We heard it from a tall fir and she simply said "mornin'."
Young minds are like sponges; think of the sounds, images and stories we let fall from our history that nestle in like leaves in the book of their lives! Crisp and clear as autumn the colors can be brushed on, but just as easily, images that jar, numb or dumb the heart down can be painted in the minds of the little ones. It's a terribly beautiful task, raising the young in this wounded world.
My family are shaping Ella with love and reverence, and we're finding ourselves shaped just the same by her wonder and innocence. Life! What a swift moving stream to ford as another new year begins! And what lies around the bend?
Peace and Blessings for 2007,