I suggested a meeting.
It is unusual.
She might think it’s silly.
The idea came after she told me about her planned week.
The desire came after she said she couldn’t meet on Tuesday or Wednesday because she was busy.
And then she told me what she was doing.
When I suggested what we could do, she maybe thought I was just trying to be nice.
Trying to be with her.
Attempting to meet her half way.
But what she didn’t know…
What she couldn’t know …
Is that her daily existence
Has been my vision,
She, daily, does what I’ve wanted to do:
– Helping children read
– Teaching children to write
– Showing through example how to learn, how to comprehend, how to express feelings and thoughts and desires and actions, from generation to generation,
As storytellers, written and oral, had done for centuries.
As my storytelling parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and other relatives and done in Wisconsin, Canada, Germany, Norway for years
Taking that observational, sharing, teaching gift and passing it on,
Was something I treasured doing
As my own children grew in their suburban – yet surprisingly diverse and ethnic – elementary schools,
Telling stories my ancestors,
And ancestors of others,
Had told for centuries,
Watching their young faces light up,
Seeing their eyes grow wide with wonder and understanding as I explained how the redwinged blackbird perched and warbling on a cattail, benefited from the muskrat house nearby, how the insects it ate flocked to that house because of the scent and the leftovers and the dung, and how the muskrat family owed a debt to the bird there, who stood as unknowing, unpaid sentinel, warning of approaching danger,
Having the teachers and parents and children exclaim “How do you KNOW that?!?”, realizing I’d learned it from my father and his parents and aunts and uncles and cousins, in the marshes of the upper Midwest.
She didn’t know that my dream, my vision, developed them, and still is now, to take young, impressionable inner-city youth out into the woods, streams, lakes, rivers, marshes — any wild places — and teach them to observe, to listen, to see, to smell, to watch and gaze at nothing at all, to hear themselves think, far away from the grittiness and noise and hustle of the city, to show them how to feel warm and cold and nature and silence and the symphony.
And then to teach those young people to write, to draw, to word or ink sketch or story tell their visions, their observations, their lessons, so that the oral traditions would continue.
She doesn’t know that, what she does every day, I yearn to do.
That when people ask me: “What would you do, if you could?”
the answer is always:
Exactly what she does.
She might think it’s odd that I want to join her in opening the children’s eyes to the world of possibility and observation.
She might think it strange that I would love to sit and read and write and tell stories not just to them, but with them.
She wouldn’t know that it’s not just a great meeting.
It’s a great life.
And it’s where I’m headed, someday.