Thursday, April 30, 2020

#sosmagic: Unexpected Supervision

I’m joining an open community of writers over at Sharing Our Stories: Magic in a Blog. If you write (or want to write) just for the magic of it, consider this your invitation to join us.#sosmagic

#sosmagic: Unexpected Supervision 

"Can I ask you a favor?" 

I stopped mid-walk, startled by a request from a stranger. I was on my way to meet my neighbor, Dave, for an early evening walk. 

"Sure," I cautiously replied. A middle aged man with two children walked towards me. The man and older child were walking their bicycles. The youngest child stood next to a bike resting on the sidewalk.

"My daughter's breaks somehow jammed. She cannot ride anymore. I gotta get this bike home so I can fix it." He explained.

"That's too bad," I responded.

"I need to get her bike back home, so I need to go back home and grab my van. Can you watch her for a few moments?" He barely waited for my response. Instead, he hopped on his bike, the other child following him. A small girl, donned in a unicorn bike helmet and brown cowboy boots faced me. Part of her ponytail was dyed purple. 

"Wait. What's her name?" I asked.


"My name is Trina." She looked up at me and smiled a toothless grin. 

"She's a good kid and will be no problem." The man left on his bike. The other child trailed after him. 

"Wait - I'll wait with her on my neighbor's porch." I pointed to Dave's porch ahead of us. 

What just happened? I thought. Although I live in a relatively safe community and a tight-knit neighborhood, it's 2020. I couldn't believe that a man that I had never met before was leaving me with his young child. I had never seen this child before. How did I agree to this? When did I agree to this? Why wouldn't he have just left the bike and walked home with her? What if he didn't come back? Doesn't he realize that we're in the middle of a pandemic? Did he somehow know that I was a teacher? Do I just look that trusting? 

Since I wanted to make sure this child and I were in highly visible space, V. and I waited on the plastic lawn chairs on my neighbor Dave's porch. First I pointed out the mourning dove's nest; next, I showed her where Dave and I found a fallen egg on his sidewalk. While we waited I told V. the few knock-knock jokes I knew. After I asked her how old she was, V. volunteered all kinds of information - where she attended school, her teacher's name, what grade she was in, and where she lived (including her street name and address). 

Dear readers, although I found it bizarre that I found myself supervising this strange child, V. was an absolute joy to talk with. It was the best part of my day.

One snippet of our conversation went something like this:

V: It's almost my birthday!
Me: That's great! When is it?
V: At the end of May. I'm going to be 7 years old.
Me: Oh. That's exciting! 7 is big stuff.
V: Uh huh. 7 will be so great. After that comes 8 and then 9. Then 10! You can do anything when you are 10!
Me: 10 is pretty great. Double digits.
V.: No more kid stuff. Maybe I can even get an iPhone. 
Me: Yeah, I guess you are pretty old when you are 10. How will you celebrate your birthday?
V.: I don't know. Cupcakes. With frosting. And cake. With lots of ice cream.

Soon after the birthday chat, V.'s dad appeared in his mini van. 

"Thanks for watching V.!" The side door of the mini van opened, and V. scurried to her dad's van. 

"Bye! Take care of the baby birds!" V. yelled as the van door closed.

The black mini van drove off. 

I hope he doesn't leave his daughter with random strangers often. It was an unsettling thought. 

Bewildered yet a bit delighted, I knocked on Dave's door and we began our previously scheduled walk. 

Thursday, April 23, 2020

#sosmagic: Grotto Gifts

I’m joining an open community of writers over at Sharing Our Stories: Magic in a Blog. If you write (or want to write) just for the magic of it, consider this your invitation to join us.#sosmagic

#sosmagic: Grotto Gifts 

"You're getting a bit too close," D. gently reminds me and outstretches his long arm to make half of a "T". I raise mine to do the same. He is right. I veered too close to him. Again. We aren't six feet away from each other anymore. Even though we're walking outside, even though both of us have been homebound for weeks, even though we have not been around many other people except for the occasional trip to the grocery store donning face masks, we do not have enough distance between us. I move over on the trail, hiking on the unpaved part. D. moves beyond the other edge of the path. 

After over a month, I am still not used to social distancing.

My neighbor and friend, D., lives alone. When my children are at their dad's house, I am solo, too. For days at a time, D. is often the only person I talk to, face-to-face (through a safe distance, of course).  

"Check out that perfect tree hole." D. points to a stunning tree hollow. I gaze at the tree cavity. Suddently, a bit of yellow catches my eye.

"D.! See that in the grotto?"

One of my favorite local trails includes a series of long-ago neglected, abandoned grottos. The grotto ahead hosts a surprise: a small piece of art made from natural objects. It's a collage of forest treasure, including a collection of handwritten uplifting words. 

D. and I stand in awe. He hangs back while I explore the grotto art first. 

"I love this so much," I gush, "Look at all of the words on the sticks. Hope. Breathe. Comfort. Calm. I adore how these words are incorporated with beauty of nature."

I stand back while D. explores.

There are a few paper words scattered on the group, perhaps disturbed from the day's breeze.

The word hope is printed on the piece of paper I pick up with my glove.

D. picks up the piece of paper with the word peace written on it. 

"Should we take the words from this spot?" I inquire. Suddenly, I look around to see if anyone else is nearby. Yet, we are alone. 

"Well, I could use some peace, " D. responds.
"I can always use more hope." I share.

"Perhaps whoever created this envisioned that people would be delighted and honored in finding these words?" I suggest, captivated with the thought that others are comforted like I am in discovering found words. 

D. nodds. 
I place the small yellow paper in my coat pocket.

We continue to walk, six feet between us, on our path.  

Slice of Life Challenge #21 Day 31: Easter Preparations

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