The last few nights I’ve been combing through old files, looking for half-finished poems, and forgotten first drafts. And to my delight I’ve found a few gems to be polished and finished. Some I may send off to who-knows-yet-where and a couple I may share with you.
But first I wanted, on this first weekend of Autumn, to share with you an old entry in a journal about an incident that I had completely forgotten. I never would have recalled this had I not found it in the bottom of a folder in the bowls of my laptop computer. This is exactly why dads should jot down those memorable moments, because our memories can let even the best of them slip away forever.
Because of the reference to my big brother Keith’s screen name (Smokey), I think this might have been originally shared on the old GayFatherhood.com website, now extinct. I was going to edit it a bit first, but in the interest of authenticity I will share it exactly as it was, jotted in the journal of a fortunate and thankful father.
It’s spring at last. It’s friggin cold, but at least it’s spring. I started getting excited several weeks ago when I saw no less than seven robins in my yard one day after a snow storm. And the next day our neighborhood Kestrel was back, flying around the yard (she nests in the high eves of an old house across the alley). Then we had our first pair of house finches show up on the wire outside my kitchen window and I felt truly that it would warm up soon. Today it is just under 30 F. with snow flurries and rain. Ugh…
In any case this is a great time to take my kids birding, and they are almost as avid about it as I am. You should see how my six-year-old patiently scans the lake with his binoculars, looking for snow geese. And he is normally NOT known for his patience. Jonathan, my middle child, at 9 is not as thrilled with birds, though he will look through my scope to see something cool and new. Mostly he is into frogs, lizards, amphibians and other icky cool creatures like that. So Friday when I have the day off, we are going to look for spring peepers (that’s tree frogs to the rest of the world).
About two weeks ago the boys and I were visiting a lake near their home, looking for migrating ducks and geese. Well, Josiah and Micah and I were; Jonathan was content just running along the beach pretending to be some kind of pterodactyl or something. We saw our first blue birds of the season that day (though some insist they are here year-round, I never get to see them).
When we got back to the car, we started slowly driving along the lake road. No traffic at all in the area, the road is that much of a “back road.” We had just passed a family who was out for a nature walk when Josiah, my oldest, looked over from the front seat beside me. Suddenly his eyes went wide with horror! He was looking right at me, at my face, at my neck, I couldn’t be sure, but I could see the bloodshot around his wide eyes as he pointed, quickly leaning away from me, shouting, “ARH! ARH! ARH!” (Well it was something like that, maybe Smokey would know how to spell it).
Now, I don’t know if I can explain how a person’s terror can be contagious, even when you have no clue what their terror is. But you tend to get caught up in it when he is only two feet from you and screaming. This is especially true when what he is screaming about seems to be on your own bodily person. All the while the other person is yelling incoherent syllables and pointing directly at you. I confess, I was horror struck too, not knowing why, but imagining some huge spring bug with broad pincers on my shoulder, or a black snake around my neck. I was frantically trying to downshift and bring the car to a stop, which I did, sort of cock-eyed on the left side of the road (um, that’s the wrong side here in the US, for our UK friends ). I flung the door open, both of us shouting, my youngest two sitting in the back seat with mouths agape wondering what madness had over taken their brother and father.
“It’s off!” Josiah said, finally able to revert from prehistoric instinctive sounds back to English. “What? What was it?” I asked, breathing hard and fast. His eyes went wide again for just a moment as he pointed at my open door. “It’s there, it’s still on the door!” I looked to my left and sat stunned. Speechless for a moment before I turned back to him and calmly said, “You put the fear of God into me for THAT?” (Might have been this guy).
There on the handle of my door was a long skinny fly. Not fat as a horse fly, not small as a house fly; much longer than each, but also skinny and completely harmless looking. I looked back to Jo and raised my eyebrows. Defensively he shouted back, “DAD it was about to crawl into your mouth! Did you want that thing in your mouth?!” Just then we all cracked up; the whole car load of us, as we took a breath and the tension left the car.
We sat there for a moment, parked crookedly on the edge of the road, when Josiah said, “Dad, you know, we could have won a lot of money on funniest home videos if we had a video camera with us.”
All in another day’s nature adventure,