Posted by: zhak39 | November 18, 2005


The car veers slightly as the driver’s head pokes out of the window.

“Look at that. Is it a hawk or a buzzard?”

You have a relentless interest in the earth, the sky and appreciation for all the beings that populate the space in between. The best meteorologists are those who live close to the earth who feel the wind and notice the sky. It doesn’t take a super Doppler and a degree to know when to open the windows or batten down the hatches. It comes from noticing, caring, making connections. I learned this from you.

All being are worthy of notice. A man whose body rebels against insect attack dons a safari hat, veil, and ridiculous white coveralls and pokes into the home of a trillion bees. It’s not for the reward of stolen honey. It’s the process-providing a home for these productive creatures, a hive as a whole organism and each part is infinite perfection. Not one of these creatures is expendable. You pull a single drowning bee from the pool. Convince us that it can be resuscitated and if it doesn’t make it, tell us gullible children to ‘take its number.’ Every tiny being is kept track of and cared for.

Meandering is not aimless. A walk in a centuries old orchard yields evidence of the cycles of life-rabbit and deer spoor, ants and ant lions, footprints, barely audible rustlings. A bird dives from a tree and drags its wing along the ground. You point out a nearby nest with tiny beaks thrust in the air and put distance between it and us, we are human interlopers. You watch, you teach, and we learn to observe but not disturb.

When a mangy fox shows up under the porch or a spitting raccoon inhabits a nearby tree you know what to do. We learn strength and mercy.

Even without the Internet or Library of Congress, you can answer our questions. “Get the book,” you say. Small hardcover missives on birds or trees or insects are always accessible on the shelf behind the library door. We feel free to consult them, our little hands wearing the pages in replication of your example. We learn to verify, to study, to draw accurate conclusions.
Children absorb what is around them. They notice everything, especially the minute. It takes patience and a willingness to set aside daily distractions to join with them in their discovery of this incredible world that we inhabit. The car veers to the side of the road and all the heads pop out the window.

“See, it’s a hawk, see the tail? My father taught me that,” I tell them.


  1. Each of my children is special to me. Each has their own individual gifts. Each one shows their loving and caring nature in their own way. You have, among your virtues, “a way with words”. What your sister and brother show with kind looks and small gestures, you are able to articulate in writing – a very special gift. The feelings behind the anecdotes that you recount are there for all the world to see and for me to treasure.

    Thank you for sharing…

  2. If I could pass on to my children 1/10the of the gifts you have given me they would be rich indeed. Love you, too.

  3. […] who can resist?  I scrounged an earlier blog post, Daddy, and dutifully plugged it […]

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