Nature reserves the right to inflict upon her children the most hilarious of jests. ~Thornton Wilder
I started writing last week’s post last Thursday evening. But then got caught up in a conversation with Superdude about the future and wedding plans and life lessons and it turned into one of those rare times with my grown-up son where it seemed we were talking as two grown-up people and not just his “mom” if you know what I mean. Anyway, I hated to break it off and the chat went kind of late so I thought to finish my blog in the morning and post it then.
But on Friday morning when I logged into Four Perspectives I noticed that we had a guest blogger, Rebecca, who did a very poetic post about how much she loves nature. Coincidentally, having just come back from a week in the mountains, I too had a blog about nature. However, mine has a somewhat different tone than the lovely Rebecca’s and to post it over the top of her ode to trees just didn’t seem all that hospitable. So I elected to let post slide last week in the name of familial relationships and Four Perspective hospitality.
But now, here it is - my own ode to nature.
I’ve mentioned in my last few posts that I was heading up into the mountains for a week with the young women from my church. As I’ve also mentioned, it is a beautiful and very picturesque spot. The air is filled with the smell of warm grass mixed with the sharp scent of pine. The wind plays it’s own symphony as it rushes and dances through the trees and when the stars come out at night they are as close and bright as diamonds on black velvet. It is indeed one of those intoxicating nature spots that, like a handsome man, can seduce you with its sites, scents, sounds and spirit…right before he dumps all over you.
Let me explain.
As the official camp cook, I was up an hour or so before everybody else in the morning and had time to sit in the stillness and watch the morning peek over the glacial ridge. Wildlife is abundant and apparent at Mia Shalom content in the knowledge that none of these humans intend them harm. And the little creatures of the forest are especially inclined to visit when there is just one lone person in the camp, and when that person is obligingly offering them pieces of pancake as a welcome. I had a couple of picturesque mornings like this where the animals would come to visit me as I stirred the fire and scrambled eggs – even a mother deer and her fauns came through the camp. It came to me that I had discovered a new identity. In the quiet solitude of the morning I had become….a Disney Princess. Yes indeed I was as one of the pantheon of Disney beauties that charmed the very birds of the air and beasts of the field with their sweetness and light. Ok, so I was bribing them with pancakes, but still I was surrounded every morning with this vast array of woodland creatures that, quite frankly, seemed to enjoy my company…and my pancakes. I proudly announced to the girls after one of my morning encounters I had become a Disney Princess. The girls responded with an empathy and an understanding of that state of grace that only teen-aged girls would understand.
However, the next morning I started to notice a kind of disturbing trend. The day started in it’s familiar enchanting fashion. I was mixing and cooking while the animals arrived one by one watching and seeming to wait politely, entertained by the birds singing and hopping from branch to branch in the morning sun. Distracted by the dance of nature, I had cooked some scrambled eggs into a too-well-done state and so tossed a few into the tall grass a few feet away from the cooking area. One little chipmunk went to take a look sniffing gingerly at the eggs. At that moment, the tone of the bird song changed a bit. Two birds swooped aggressively towards the little chipmunk kind of chittering in a not particularly friendly manner. The chipmunk backed away to his shady spot under the picnic bench while the birds landed and apparently staked their claim to the scrambled egg domain. While I couldn’t help but wonder how Snow White would have handled this little territorial dispute, it wasn’t enough to completely dispel fairy-tale haze of the morning. But then the gangster-birds started eating the scrambled eggs.
Do you understand what I’m saying?
The birds were eating, well, other birds sort of!
Now I’ve seen The Lion King so I understand the “circle and life” and all that. But this seemed to me to be decidedly un-Disney-like cannibalism! What would Cinderella say?
And before you start thinking that it was just a couple of bad “bird-seeds” stirring up trouble and rebelling against nature let me just tell you that before I could even collect my spatula a whole bunch of other gangster-cannibal birds busted in with their bird-buddies and starting chowing-down too.
So that was troubling on a lot of levels. But I could shake it off. I’ve never been that big a fan of birds anyway – they’ve always kind of creeped me out. Plus I still had my little furry friends. But even that fantasy was deflated a few minutes later when a new chipmunk visitor came calling. What made this little guy unique was that he was on the hunt, on the prowl, makin’ the moves and just plain lookin’ for love in all the wrong places. And judging by the reactions of the all the other chipmunks he wasn’t exactly the prince charming of the chipmunk world – or maybe that’s just how it goes down with chipmunks – I don’t really know. Anyway most of the other chipmunks (apparently females) scattered to the trees. But one female was just a tad too slow (distracted ironically, by a plump ripe cherry I had thrown her way) and he was…I don’t really know how to say this…all over her. Well she wasn’t having any of it and the chase was on. Round and round and up and down and ending in a frenzy of fur that quite frankly is going to take me awhile to forget. Again, this isn’t something that Giselle had to deal with in Enchanted – even the cockroaches behaved themselves for her.
So my princess crown had kind of slipped a little bit and I’m sorry to say that other cracks were starting to show as well in the gossamer glow of my morning fairy tale. There was group of 3 little round ground squirrels or pot guts, as they are known up here. They seemed to be genially sharing a bit of leftover pancake – kind of passing it around. But as I watched them they began to take on the rather disturbing quality of a group of beer-bellied rednecks. I could almost imagine them slapping each other on the back and cracking open another keg – was I actually witnessing some kind of Pot gut poker game? And then there were the bugs. In the movies Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella were surrounded by beautiful butterflies or glowing fireflies, while I was spending an awful lot of time trying not to have most of my blood sucked away by the ever-increasing army of mosquitoes. And what is with those big horseflies? Every couple of minutes I had one of them banging into my head. Do they have no internal navigation? No sense of direction?
The piece de resistance though came a couple of hours later. The girls were up and a few of us were sitting around the table having just finished breakfast. The girls asked me if I had had another “Disney-Princess-Morning.” I smiled wanly through my memories of beer-bellied pot guts and lascivious chipmunks as I assured them that, yes indeed my forest friends were in attendance this morning and had seasoned their breakfast burritos with nature’s harmony. Just then about 10 feet away on the small trail above the campsite a deer pushed his way through the bushes and stopped to look at us, blinking his large expressive brown eyes in what seemed to be surprise, but not fear.
“Oh my gosh! You are a Disney Princess!” one of the girl’s exclaimed.
Unfortunately the dear deer picked that exact moment to charmingly shower the bushes with his own version of Mountain Dew. That’s right he had to pick that exact second after the declaration that I might actually be a Disney-princess to urinate all over that possibility. And not only that but he punctuated this pugilism by turning around, lifting his tail and giving as a full view of the deer pellets dropping out of his little furry butt.
Well we all cracked up. What else can you do? We laughed and laughed and I admitted to the girls that while I had indeed had my moments of Disney-Princessness, I seemed to invite more of the dark-side of Disney. Maybe I’m more of a reality-show kind of Disney Princess.
Anyway I’m really not surprised. You may remember that my own children compare me to the best of the Wicked Queens so what was I thinking? Besides, as Princess Diana, the ultimate reality princess said, “Being a princess isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”