Saturday, July 21, 2012

an appreciation

Last week, we travelled to Butler,Pennsylvania to visit a much loved relative.Then we headed to Penn State, to stay with our youngest son for two days.Until now, I had not seen where he lives as he does post doctoral work for that sad university. 

On the second day of our visit,he took us to Bear Meadows National Natural Landmark ,which is seven miles south of the Penn State campus.These 890 acres of boreal forest are unusual in tree and animal species and so we set off to hike the four miles around the bog.

Our different focuses were interesting.Sean tried mightily to point out bird species that we wouldn't see in Georgia and he hunted for herps;salamanders and snakes.I tra-la-laed around in amazement at the number of mountain laurel and some still blooming in dainty pink and stark white.The butterflies,bumble bees and I enjoyed these blooms,so late in July.My poor husband spent considerable time lamenting the mosquitoes feasting on his hatless head.

We did see the black throated blue warbler dressed in his magnificent tux and headed for a date and a cute pickerel frog who posed for many shots of his lovely self.But the best was yet to come.When we had almost completed the hike,and I was chatting idly with some thistle,my son called me over.There she was; a sunning timber rattler.What a beautifully marked snake with her black eyes and head turned slightly to watch us.I had never seen one in the wild and I couldn't take my eyes off her.Her rattle was there but silent until my son went closer for a picture.Then the rattle,sounding like summer locusts, started up. This is what she was saying:"O.K. you are too close now.I have no intention of harming you but I can and will protect myself, so it's time for you to keep walking.I am courteous enough to give a warning ."Quite a conversation!We and she moved on.

When we took our youngest son home the day after his birth at 9 lbs.13 ou.,he was a blank slate.If I had thought of the gene pool that he came from,the people of Wales,Scotland ,England and Ireland, I could have made some guesses that he would have auburn hair and tend to freckles.The Celts are great story tellers and he is writing a book.These islanders also revere and engage Nature in their lives and Art and so he has.But still when a child is born, what can we hope to know about what they will become ?

My grandparents never studied past the third grade.Their great-grandson has a doctorate in yes, biology, and he did it this monumental thing all on his own.His passion for this subject will lead  him to uncover important knowledge and he will share this with his world.He does that now, in published articles.

Just before we finished our hike,we came to a clearing and my son said that he always stops here to look over the bog and the trees.I wondered what he was thinking as he gazed in silence and I have to think that they were thoughts of deep gratitude.I stood behind, looking at him and feeling the same.


Garnette Arledge said...

I saved your latest post to read this morning, Sunday with its perfect blue sky. Thank you again.

kris spikes said...


Anonymous said...

Our youngest is also a son. I always have such deep, rich feelings when I am with him--pride, sadness at being so far away from him, surprise at the direction his interests have taken him, and of course joy at being with him for whatever limited time we're together (he lives in Mexico with his wife).
All children are special. The first one certainly is. However, to me the 'last one' is often extra special--and often extra taxing. We labor through raising one last child and love that child with a quiet mourning for a part of our life that is passing.

God is good--and very wise!

Missy said...

So sweet!