Our family honors and respects life. Sometimes I don’t know exactly what that means when I look at the world around me and see the violence and harm people commit daily. I struggle to learn how to disagree with someone while still upholding their dignity. I forget how to discipline my kids without relying on subtle shame. I don’t always know how to eat ethically. I don’t always know how to spend my money without supporting unsafe work conditions. And sometimes I just want to stop thinking about the inherent outcomes of the millions of decisions I make daily. I count on grace for the things I have done and the things I have left undone, but I don’t think that excuses me from making deliberate choices to honor the dignity of life in this world.
Our 7 year old is reaching the stage of childhood where justice is very apparent, and injustice is unacceptable. The weight of every living thing is heavy on her heart. At our county fair she took a pony ride which she looked forward to all day. She struggled to be patient, waiting for her turn. And when it finally came she got on the little pony and started riding around and around. Surprisingly, she struggled to hold back her tears the whole time. Afterwards her Aunt asked her if it was fun and she said, “It was kinda fun for me, but I don’t think it was any fun for the ponies. I don’t think they do anything but walk in a circle all day.”
Here is a very dignified grave site for “Delicate” the Painted Lady butterfly
She is also raising some Painted Lady butterflies in her bedroom. Three of the caterpillars didn’t survive their life cycles, and one of the butterflies never fully expanded her wings. As an adult, I know that this is the reason why insects reproduce in such large numbers. Their delicate lives require the strength-in-numbers strategy of carrying on the gene-pool. Ants will cannibalize their dead so that they can reuse the nutrients for the survival of the colony. There are no individual ant’s right, or respect for the individual butterfly in the animal kingdom. But she doesn’t know that yet. She is grieving the loss of each one, and feeling terribly guilty that their short lives are happening in a mesh cage in her room, not the big green world of flowers.
People are animals. But they’re more than animals. The world is a ball of resources. But it is more than just resources. Having respect for the dignity of a butterfly is a small act, but it is one that I hope will translate into having respect for the dignity of all life. We won’t always know how to respond to that dignity, but at least we will acknowledge that it exists.
I expected to feel it a lot sooner after leaving. And when I didn’t, I wasn’t sure it would come. And then it hit me like a ton of bricks. Homesickness is kinda bumming me out.
I miss having friends near by who have known me for years. I miss our families. I miss the kids’ friendships. I miss my doula clients and the birth work I was doing.
I do not miss winter. Not yet anyways…
The girls are becoming quite the eager hikers. Elise now initiates hikes periodically. She and Olivia get themselves ready. They find their hiking shoes, thick socks, snacks, water bottles and backpacks on their own. Cressida still argues with me about footwear. She insists that she is supposed to be “fancy” at all times, even though she has had serious footwear issues the couple of times I have let her wear her mary janes on hikes. After much cajoling I can usually get her to wear her Keens, but it usually involves tears and 15 minutes devoted to the this argument alone. I’ve even tried some peaceful parenting and clever tools like letting her color all over her Keens with sparkly pens, but that did’t help. So I have just resorted to heavy-handed force in the form of, “If you don’t put on your hiking shoes you will be on fancy shoes restrictions tomorrow.”
Once we get out on the trails though, no one complains about footwear, not even Miss Sparkle-toes. We’ve been systematically hiking the East Bay region, one park at a time. So far we’ve done Pleasanton Ridge, Sunol, Redwood Regional Park and Mount Diablo’s Summit Trail (starting at Juniper Camp Ground).
Here are the girls exploring a burned area on the top of a ridge on Mount Diablo. A couple of weeks after we moved here we were at a homeschooling park day and the moms were talking about how they could watch the wild fire burning on the mountain from the park. The fire was just a couple years ago. It’s interesting to have moved from such a lush green diciduous region like the Cuyahoga Valley where there are muddy spots year round, to a place like California where the waterfalls are seasonal and wild fire alerts are posted year round.
I’d like to do a hike at least every other week with the girls. And I’d also like to get some chances to solo hike. I’d like to do Mitchell Canyon to Eagle Peak as a solo hike, or with Rob if we can find an all day babysitter. Back in Ohio we were able to drop the girls off with family and go out all day, or hit the trails when the kids were in school. But those days are long gone. I need some Aunts or Uncles to move out here… Any takers?