Tag Archives: Father’s Day

Courage at Twilight: A Turtle and a Grebe

I waltzed up the river with strong strokes. Pull-rest-rest.  Pull-rest-rest.  The hen and her ducklings huddled tight against the bank looking every bit the bunch of muddy roots.  How do ducklings love their father drake? I wonder.  He has flown this stretch of river.  “Happy Father’s Day, Dad!” came the texts.  Is that how it is done, I wonder: four small typed words with a diminutive exclamation mark?  I handed Dad a thick old book, yellowed, wrapped in newspaper, in a red paper sack, to thank him for being my father.  Fiorello LaGuardia: the Italian Mayor of New York City who took on the Tammany Hall political machine, and won.  A black-crowned night heron rose from the riverbank with five-foot wings barred black and white, as silent as my waltzing river pondering.  How do his chicks say Happy Father’s Day? I wonder.  With urgent shrieks for regurgitated fish, no doubt, and by leaving the nest!  What a magnificent beautiful creature.  I imagine the carp fingerlings say nothing at all, glad not to be gobbled.  And I baked a pesto chicken orzo casserole and a sticky pudding cake full of dates and walnuts dribbled with hot toffee-cream syrup.  Oh, and first dibs to Dad on my book by Beryl Markham, an early pilot who flew single-props with open cockpits, who flew so intimately with planet earth, skimming the tall tree tops—she could see the waves and smiles of the farmers and they could see hers.  I have reached my three-mile turn-around too soon—I feel I could paddle up this river forever, relaxed and calm, not having the answers, and at peace with that unknowing.  My two youngest played cello-piano duets to Mom and Dad and me, moving us with their beauty and the music’s beauty.  “Rafting the river . . . I remember you naming every single type of butterfly we saw.  You knew everything about them.  And the trees and birds and wildflowers, too.  You taught me to look for the small and simple things, and remember the value they add to our lives.”  Thank you, son.  (I’ll have you write my epitaph.)  Maybe Bullock’s orioles chitter cheerfully to celebrate their fathers, flashing their oranges blacks and whites in their excitement.  I don’t know that little turtles thank their big-shell papas, sunning exclusively on fallen tree trunks, necks and legs stretched out pleasurably, imperiously, a knot of dried algae on one’s back.  I sent my sons-turned-fathers a handmade card with a personal note of admiration and encouragement and a token ten-dollar bill.  Does that count?  Yes, that counts—every sincere expression counts.  “Oh, my dear Daddy.  How I love and honor you and appreciate with deep gratitude all that you do for me.”  Thank you, sweet daughter of mine.  A Clark’s grebe with white face and black crown and piercing yellow beak and piercing scarlet eye dove and dove as I approached, then appeared twenty-five yards behind me.  What a magnificent beautiful creature!  His chicks would easily admire him.  “I love you Daddy!”  That’s how it’s done: with love.  I love you, too.

 

Pictures above and below: scenes from the Jordan River, in Utah, today.

Wood Lamp: Joia

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Writing a letter to his Grandpa Baker (80) this morning for father’s day, Hyrum (14) turned to me and asked, “Grandpa has been finding some cool wood for me to make lamps out of.  Do you think he would like one of my lamps as a father’s day present?”  “I’m sure he would love it,” of course I replied.

Hyrum found the piece of wood for this little lamp when working for a friend to clear his yard and flower gardens of weeds.  Obscured by the weeks was the small stump of a dead evergreen.  Hyrum could see the potential in this dead stump.  He asked if he could make something out of it, brought it home, and began to give it new life as a lamp.

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We made bases for small lamps by cutting discs off the end of an old cedar fence post.  The wood was old and cracked, but we wood-glued the pieces together, allowed them to cure, then ran them through a neighbor’s planer.

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We named the little lamp Joia, a joyous Portuguese word meaning “gem.”  Hyrum gave Joia to his Grandpa today, the same Grandpa that inspired our lamp-making in the first place with his lamp Timponogos, about 55 years old.  Grandpa seemed as pleased to receive the lamp as Hyrum was to gift it.  This little gem of a lamp has connected the generations with memories and a common love of creation and beauty.

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