Putting on the Big Boots

Remember that it’s all in the way you look at it

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It happens to every one of us at one time or another. We travel along comfortably, and everything seems fine. Then, suddenly our life journey takes a curve so sharp that we feel like we’ve been flung off the road. The pain of sadness is so great that we want to crawl into a corner and cry. We long to do a life reset, to go back to the way things were a week, a month or a year ago. We forget all about putting on the big boots.

At times such as these, if we are really lucky, something happens or someone comes along to help us get back on the path. In my case this earthy angel was a child, my two-year-old granddaughter I had not seen since she was born.

“Grandma!” she called and ran into my arms. My heart melted. Thus began a whole new set of adventures and a new perspective on life.

“Come on, Grandma, let’s go!” She grabbed my hand. What other choice did I have?

We discovered milkweed pods, split open and bursting with fluff. After a detailed discussion of the very hungry caterpillar, we reached for a pod. Small fingers tugged out the softness, and three dark brown seeds fell. A soft breeze came along, wrapped them in its arms and lifted them high above us. “Look, Grandma! Up in the sky!” We watched as the tiny parachutes drifted away. Within seconds hundreds more balls of fluff filled the air.

“Look at the pretty flower.” She pointed to the yellow and pink tendrils of a vining honeysuckle. “Mmmmm. Smells good.” Grandma, Mommy, the neighbor’s cat, the chickens and ducks also enjoyed the olfactory experience, whether they wanted to or not. A lilac, miraculously blooming this time of year, caught the child’s eye. “What’s that?” Big brown eyes sparkled when the child reached up for the purple spire.

A few straggler blackberries remained on the thorny vines. On finding one she plucked it off and popped it into her mouth. Her face turned up. She closed her eyes and smiled. “Yummy,” she whispered. “Let’s find another one!”

Every evening we picked raspberries. Bees buzzed around us, finding nectar-filled blossoms. “Oh, look at the bees! Bees make honey. Bzzzzz.” A raspberry-coated finger reached for a gentle creature, but it escaped to a higher spot. Somehow her bucket always ended up with the most raspberries, possibly because every few seconds she emptied Mommy’s bucket into her own.

Snack time is critical when you are two. Josie did not hesitate a second when asked if she would like apples and peanut butter. “YES!” When handed the apple slice with creamy goodness on top, she observed, “It’s a sailboat!” She proceeded to lick off the peanut butter, (the sail) and hand back the apple. “More!”

Grandmas want to do special things with their grandchildren; making memories is important. Of course, I had a wonderful plan. Josie helped find sticks and branches. We piled them in the fire pit. I started the fire to make hot coals, and we went to gather the goodies we needed. Graham crackers. Marshmallows. Chocolate bars. Roasting skewers. Mommy and Grandma worked together while Josie waited at the picnic table. We roasted marshmallows to light-brown-crispy-edged perfection. We carefully slid them between graham crackers that we had lined with a section of chocolate. Mommy proudly held out the confection, the warm marshmallow oozing out invitingly. “Here, Josie, try a s’more we made just for you.”

“I just want the choc-o-late.”

Often, as we were walking (rather, running) through the yard or on the sidewalk at Grandpa’s house, she would look up. “Oh, look at the pretty clouds. Oh, look! There’s the moon! It didn’t go night-night.”

The time flew by, and the granddaughter had to go back home, much too far away.

Last night, as I walked through the yard, I found a wilted lilac spire lying on the ground. I picked it up, held it to my nose and smiled. I considered the life lessons I learned from the two-year old.

Sometimes you need to grab someone’s hand and say, “C’mon, let’s go!”

The simple things in life are often the most wonderful.

Savor the good stuff, and by all means make sure you share.

Always, always remember to look up.

Kruempel’s newest book release, Once Upon a Midwest Sunset, as well as her series, Promises to Keep, are available on Amazon.com. Once Upon a Midwest Sunset (an excellent gift) is a compilation of the stories from her NOOKS AND CRANNIES column, which was published in five newspapers in 2020-21. Contact her at deannkruempelauthor@gmail.com and receive free stories, recipes, photos and updates.

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