Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Another Birthday Today

I’ve always associated my Dad with the outdoors; he's just an outdoorsy type of guy. Growing up, if my father was not at work then he was probably out in the yard doing an array of gardening tasks and projects. I never understood what he could possibly be doing to pass so much time.

When I picture my childhood I envision our back yard when we lived in Maryland. It had a treehouse and a trapeze that my dad built himself. And it was full of trees and leaves and secret places. That yard was my absolute favorite place to be. I ran around pretending to be Wendy, Dorothy, Sheena, a fairy, a gelfling, a unicorn, anyone or anything I wanted. My dad would walk around the yard with me and point out the things I’d miss, like a snake coiled up a few feet from where I’d stepped. He’d drive me around on the lawn mower down the hill in the grassy part below. This will sound strange, but I did this meditation thing back in my theater days where we envisioned ourselves in a safe space and I automatically saw myself back in that treehouse.

When I got older and we lived in a different house things were different. I didn’t want to go outside. It was all about locking myself in my bedroom, shutting out the light as much as possible and blasting some awful hair band. My dad would force me to go out back and do yard work under threat of grounding or losing my phone. I hated it. I hated weeding and planting and whatever else he had me do, and I was certain that absolutely no other kid my age was being forced to do manual labor outside – I, and I alone, was being tortured. I started to dread any Saturday in which the weather was nice because I knew I’d be forced to “go out and enjoy it.”

As the weather gets colder here I’ve been watching my plants out on the patio freeze and slowly droop. I contacted my dad back in the summer to get his advice on what to plant out there and discuss how to do it successfully. My potted caladium and coleus had tripled in size by week 6. I was left wishing for a yard in which I could start a real garden, a place that would support perennials, and wishing I’d paid more attention to everything my dad taught me. Hubby and I are starting to look into buying a house this spring and my number one priority for looking at a home is for it to have a yard. I want Sam to have his own place outdoors where he feels free. Right now I do my best to get him outside as much as possible to parks, playgrounds, or the arboretum. I look forward to seeing what my dad has done for Sam in his new woodsy backyard in the mountains where he and my mother recently retired. I know it involves a play area with tree stumps, and holes and crevices especially good for inhabitance by elves.

Every weekend Hubby and I try to figure out what we should do with our free time with Sam. Hubby lists possibilities as they come to mind and quite frequently, if the weather is nice, every indoor suggestion will be met with a disdainful, “There’s no way we’re doing something inside. It’s a beautiful day and I intend to enjoy it.”

Happy Birthday, Dad. Hope you have fun out in the yard today.


Blogger amyjane said...

This is random but your yard makes me think of this sweet movie called "Fairy Tale--A True Story." It documents some girls during WW1 who supposedly captured photos of fairies in their amazing backyard. Who was a sweet story and beautiful garden filming.

11:15 PM  
Blogger scribbit said...

Sounds like you had a great place to grow up. Maryland is beautiful and kids need spaces to explore. A nice post!

12:39 AM  
Blogger Gina said...

Your dad sounds just like my mom! My mom could spend ALL DAY, EVERY DAY out in the yard or on a hike in nature. Her tan always beat mine!

2:13 AM  
Blogger Staci said...

Just started reading your blog, love it!! :) Your Sam is beautiful. Touching post, this one.

10:16 AM  
Anonymous mopsy said...

Happy Birthday to your Dad! What a great post.

1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up in Maryland too AND my little guys birthday is the 25th too.

Enjoyed reading your posts!


1:05 PM  
Blogger Adventures In Babywearing said...

Such a great post... as usual! Lovely pic, too- and I remember those theater exercises... and still do it sometimes. Works great in childbirth and when I just need to get away!

1:06 PM  
Blogger smartmama said...

love maryland- did my child life training at hopkins

My son runs of the bus each day and down to the rocks and woods to catch slamanders, buitl stick forst - it is great- ever read- Last child in the woods? (interesting parenting read about need for nature/outdoor time)

8:57 PM  
Anonymous ABC Momma said...

What a great tribute to your dad! He sounds like a great guy.

I love that picture too. It looks like a sacred place.

12:01 AM  
Blogger Mama D said...

Happy Birthday Beth's Dad! Very lovely post. Isn't it funny how things affect us more than we think. How you rejected the outdoors for a while but ultimately your dad made an impact on your life forever from when you were very young. It gives me hope that any unpleasant behaviour A displays in her teens will not predict the sort of woman she'll become.

So exciting about the house news!!

12:05 AM  

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