Monday, January 11, 2010
Be My Guest Monday! Magical Moments
On a warm summer afternoon my three girls and I decided that it would be a great day for a walk around our rural block.
We began our journey with my youngest and middle child in the double stroller. My oldest daughter, Kira rode beside us on her big girl bike. As we made our way around we visited with the dogs and cats that lived along the way, and listened to the incessant babble from my five year As we walked parallel to a field that held goats Izzy became very excited. “Mom can we look at ‘em,” she asked.
I parked the stroller and Izzy climbed out. While the girls were busy looking at the goats I noticed there were cattails a little way down the road.
“Mom, why are they in water?” Kira asked with a inquisitive look on her face.
As I caught up to them I recognized this as a teaching moment and said, “Cattails need a lot of water, so they grow in the ditch where there is always plenty of water.”
A little breeze stirred the air and set the blades of the cattails in motion.
“Do you hear that sound?” I asked them, they nodded yes and I continued, “that’s called a rustle. It’s the music that cattails make.”
They listened very intently to their enchanting sound.
“Can you see the brown stuff at the top of the cattail stem? Do you think it’s hard or soft?”
“Hard,” said Kira
“Hard,” echoed Izzy.
“Let’s pick one and see.” I stepped as close as I could without landing in two feet of water, and broke off a stem that I could reach and then held the brown top out to my girls.
“Its soft!” Kira said in astonishment when she felt the fleece like treasure.
“I want to see,” begged Izzy.
I turned the head toward her and she rubbed it back and forth, “ooh soft.” She said.
“Why's it soft?” Kira asked in a puzzled voice.
“Well let’s take it home and wait for a week and we’ll find out.”
We picked a cattail for each of the girls, including Emma.
“Now when we get home you can't touch them for the whole week. Can you do that.”
“Yes!” Kira and Izzy chimed in at the same time.
Once we were home we put the cattails in a jar, but that lasted all of five minutes. Through the week they were used as magic wands, cooking spoons, swords, golf clubs, baseball bats and drum sticks along with anything else their imagination cooked up.
As I was cleaning up the house the following week I picked up the lone surviving cattail, it's stem was bent and broken, the tip was gone, and there was a hole in the side that was the size of a nickel that was beginning to fray. I sighed and lifted the garbage can lid planning to let it share its brother’s fate, but stopped. I had wanted to teach them something about cattails.
I quickly called the girls and when they came I took all three of them outside onto the porch. As we stood on the warm windless day I held up I held up the cattail and asked them, “What do you think a cattail is made out of?”
“Fur” said Kira.
“Cats” said Izzy.
I took a pinch of the frayed edges around the hole and spread them across my palm.
Kira took a closer look and said “They look like dandelion seeds.”
“Yes they do, they are actually a lot like dandelion seeds. These are cattail seeds the brown part of a cattail is made up of trillions and trillions of seeds. Can you see the part at the tip of each seed that flares out like an umbrella?” They nodded. “This little fuzzy thing allows the wind to carry each seed away from where it started so a new cattail plant can grow.
“Do you want to see how cattails end up growing all over?” I asked.
"Yes!" They all three shouted just because they could.
I took the seeds between my thumb and forefinger and threw them up into the air. It had been a windless day, but at that moment a small breeze began to blow, and caught the seeds and sent them flying in all directions.
Giggles erupted from around my knees as all three girls watched with sudden excitement. Emma, who was one at the time, started down the stairs to chase after them and Izzy quickly followed. They ran and giggled after the little torrent of seeds.
“Mom,” Kira said, “can I throw some?”
I handed her the cattail.
She ripped handful after handful off and sent billions of seeds floating into the now still air. With no wind to carry them away they just hung in the air around us, it felt like time had stopped in the middle of a snowstorm and individual snowflakes stood all around us. Suddenly a gust of wind whipped through the cloud of seeds, sending them into a kind of dance. They swirled up from behind the garbage can and twirled up around the eave of the house only to continue higher and higher until, as one, they turned in a wonderful dancing cloud that rained down around us.
My two younger girls stared up in open mouthed wonder as the seeds brushed across their cheeks and swirled around their little bare feet.
In that moment all was silent, it was as if we were caught up in a world all our own.
Kira whispered, “It’s like magic!” I looked down and watched as her shoulders drew up in a smile to match the one on her face. She crinkled up her nose and giggled in delight, twirled once, threw the cattail at me and took off down the stairs to join in the ballet.
Izzy suddenly broke from her trance and began twirling, sending puffs of seeds dancing around and around her. She giggled and exclaimed, “They’re like dancing fairies!” There was magic in her step and sparkles in her big blue eyes as she grabbed Emma’s hands and together they spun in circles and giggled even more.
Another gust of wind picked up and sent seeds into a little twister turning and dancing down the driveway.