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Posts Tagged ‘my daughter’

in the woods


fox warren today. an actual, multiple-entry point fox warren. i saw it with my own eyes, on a family walk in the woods on our farm. the residents, to be sure, stayed hidden. i’m sure they were appalled by our canine sticking her snout into their doorways. my spouse indicated that the home had been made by groundhogs, then forcibly taken over by the fox family. an unsavory custom of foxes, perhaps, but amazing nonetheless. i knew we had red foxes, more than one family, living here, but i had not expected to be so close to their home. a few times i have caught glimpses, but red foxes are rather shy and quick to dash away. one morning last spring a fox was on the edge of our garden beds, likely tracking a rabbit. i stood transfixed until he slinked away through the cover of marsh grasses. i would love to write a poetic nature essay in response to today’s discovery, yet at the present i am too awed, too struck with the excitement of it. oh, the daughter’s plans: to wake up before the sun and walk silently with her father into the woods, to catch a glimpse of scarlet canines on their way home from breakfast. i will awake just in time to sit on the porch, steaming mug of coffee between my palms, watch my daughter canter home across the field, wild glimmer in her eyes and grin ear-to-ear. Vulpes vulpes, you have captivated us.

Photo, alas, is not my own, but from Wikimedia Commons. Woodcut image © AllPosters

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“Before the beginning of time, the moon and sun got married.  One tiny star was at the wedding.  There was nothing else yet.  Soon after the wedding, Earth was born.”

This story is from my five-year-old daughter.  She has been telling stories about celestial bodies since she was three.  At some point my daughter’s stories will appear in my book about spirituality and parenting (or, perhaps, in books that she also illustrates).  For now, they are deeply nourishing food for reflection.

When she learned that Pluto once had been classified as a planet, but now is considered a dwarf planet, she began telling this story:  “The Sun is very sad because her son Pluto is sick; he has a bad sickness and won’t ever get better.”

I think that since the beginning of human life we must have had the desire to tell stories about our universe, to puzzle over the origins of the universe, and to figure out our own place in the world.  The diversity of creation stories told throughout the world astonishes and inspires me.

When my daughter was a bit more than a year old, she had a sippy cup of milk in her little hand as she climbed onto one of our deep windowsills.  She looked out the living room window and saw a giant, creamy moon in the sky. With both hands she lifted her cup toward the moon.  In that moment I had a glimpse back through time, and I could see people visiting temples to make offerings to Artemis, Diana, Coyolxauhqui, Sina, Chandra, and the many other moon goddesses the Earth’s peoples have known.  Of course, my daughter turned the traditional on its head: in her cosmology, the moon is male, while the sun is female.

From that evening onward, whenever she saw the moon she would let out a squeal of delight.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget the first time she noticed the moon in the daytime.  She was incredibly excited that the moon and sun were out together.

It delights me to see my daughter’s stories fluidly entering her playtime.  After all, her play is her work, her way of making meaning out of the various ingredients of her world.  Together we read creation stories from world cultures, and occasionally a particular element will leap out at her, eventually becoming incorporated into her own mythic tales.  If you want to explore these stories, here is a book to start with:  Creation by Gerald McDermott, a richly illustrated re-telling of Genesis 1:1—2:3 of the Hebrew Bible.

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