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Before the fall

By October 1, 2007June 4th, 2018monkeys, thoughts

The other day, Lucy and I were walking to the library (how awesome is that — walking to the library. I love my neighborhood). The house on the corner had a hedge of volunteer mimosa trees growing en masse. Their feathery xylophone fronds called out to Lucy so we moved slowly past them, Lucy’s hand lightly grasping the wispy leaves as they grazed her fingers and then folded into themselves shyly. She wanted to take one with her, but each time she tugged, the leaves zipped off the stem leaving her with nothing but a handful of green confetti.

Finally we reached the end of the mimosas and left them behind. We continued on past the colorful bungalows that fill our neighborhood, past that breezy, postcolonial, white-draped porch, past that washed out Elvis bust with ruby red lapels, past the house that was our second choice when we moved here a year ago, past that creepy giant stone head propped up against the shrubs. I was asking Lucy about the head — where could it have come from? — when a sudden loud crack made us look up. And with no more warning than that, a heavy 25-foot-long tree branch crashed densely to the ground, ten feet in front of us, completely covering the sidewalk. Had we been 30 seconds further into our walk, it would have fallen right on top of us.

There is no way, had we been directly beneath it, that I could have gotten us out of the way in time. Not to dwell on the “if” of this non-tragedy, but the best I could have hoped for would have been to quickly sandwich myself between Lucy and the branch, with the additional goal of not crushing Lucy when the heavy branch, a sizable tree unto itself, crushed me. Which is really to say that within this particular “if,” I would have been useless. But thanks to the volunteer mimosas. Thanks to Lucy’s fascination with plants and flowers and everything else in the world. And of course, thanks to my atypically not hurrying her along (because these plants that we see every day, they are keeping us from our important duties at the library this busy Saturday). Thanks to all that, the fallen branch was just another fascinating thing to look at along our walk. Wow! we said. Why did that branch just fall out of that tree? Let’s pretend we’re in the jungle as we wade through it.

As parents, we’re expected to guide our children through life. With somewhat of a forward motion. With some interesting stops along the way. And safely.

The thing is, sometimes it’s our kids who do all that, while we just stand by uselessly and watch. Not that Lucy knew anything about the branch that was slated to break our bodies. But she was moving at her own pace. Which is most definitely not my pace. And Lucy’s pace not only taught us about shy wispy mimosa trees, but it also kept us safe from big powerful oak trees.

I have so much to learn. Thank goodness Lucy and Zoe are here to teach me.

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