Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Placing Petals

In honor of the Summer Solstice, Oliver and I made floral sun catchers. It's a simple, quiet art. After
tucking the two little ones into bed for afternoon naps, Oliver and I made our plan.  I told him we needed to gather materials from nature.  We'd break them apart and make something new.  We watched a video about the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge (it's on my bucket list).  Then, with the deepest clarity of understanding, Oliver said, "Oh. So we're combining science and art.  I love that!" He capered off to don his lab coat, because, science.

In the yard, Oliver saw the familiar in close detail.  I mean, he did have the magnifying glass (science, after all), but in a more figurative sense.  He noticed the veins in the leaves, the pollen on flowers, the delicacy of a flower's petals, the coarseness and variation of a blade of grass. He noticed the pieces that make up the whole. I never tire of seeing the lessons nature has to extend. She is a powerful teacher. How can we hope to understand the whole if we don't see the pieces that play a part?

With a melange of petals-grasses-leaves in hand, we settled at the dining room table to begin. Oliver plucked petals from flowers. Then, with his little Oliver twinkle in his eye that somehow always manages to make the freckles on his nose more pronounced, he glanced at me, smiled, and said, "She loves me, she loves me not..."  He asked if I knew about that.  I smiled and told him I did.  He responded, "I figured." And just as the natural world came into sharper focus with new eyes, so did my son.

Oliver shared things he's learned recently. We sang to Gillian Welch and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.  Beyond enjoying the soft moments of creation alongside my son, the placement of petals in a new order leant itself to a reflection on my morning.  My close friend lost one of her dearest friends today. I thought about cycles and time and how much beauty is there that we fail to notice. I thought about circles and cycles -- how comforting and ever-present they are, but how it can still manage to feel like a punch to the gut, even when we know what's coming. I thought about how rare it is to experience a pure emotion -- that the others so often overlap. I thought about memory-making. As a mother, I always wonder, will this one stick?  Will this one embed?  When we're 60, will this moment flash -- sitting at the dining room table singing and placing deconstructed flowers to build a creation of our own? Will it implant?  Will he remember it?  Will I?

Oliver's Suncatcher
Neither of us worried much about the past or the future as we celebrated the solstice today. We were present, the two of us, velvet petals between thumb and index finger, seeing parts to make a new whole.  On the longest day of the year, we were content.  We were full.

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