Chalk Drawings in the Rain

Standing there alone, at the precipice of nightfall, the air turns cooler, daylight appearing a little dimmer and the shadows begin to fade away slowly. One moment his silhouette is beside him, it draws longer before simply dissipating in the pale, late afternoon ambient light, along with all the other shadows. It used to be so clear; his relationship with his kids, the expectations’, the experiences. But now they seem to be dissolving like a child’s chalk drawings in the rain.

It’s strange when you get older and your children do too, it’s not the same for you both. For one the days run by like a fast moving bus leaving one to yearn for what they may have missed and for the other they seem to draw on forever, full of opportunity, excitement for what may come, adventure and anticipation. For the parent there is a sense of loss, for the child freedom.

You knew it was coming, all the older folks say it’s so, that the time you have with them passes by so quickly and we take it for granted. That time passes by like a mid-winters day, and soon you’re wondering what happened, where did it all go, why do you feel as though they’ve forgotten you. You forget what it is like to be a teenager, cruising around with your pal’s, the freedom, no one looking over your shoulder.

Your daughter has a boyfriend, he gets more time than you now, she looks at him with that same lost essence in her eyes that she once had for you…when she was like five. It hurts, you feel betrayed, left behind, alone. They all grow older; your son leaps out the front door in his letterman jacket and the keys to his future, and his little tender hands not in yours, tugging you along. Finally the youngest glances back at you as she runs off to join her team mates on the field, it’s not fair you think, you used to throw her in the air and now her fellow ball players celebrate with her, they chant and cheer her on and they are louder than you and the sound of your voice diminishes as it gets carried away in the fall air.

Breakfast is lonely now; it feels unnecessary, like an old outdated custom. Like an old book you once loved to read over and over but it just seems like the words aren’t quite as bright as they used to be, the pages are more fragile and worn and the cover has seen its day in the sun, it eventually finds its way onto a shelf higher than the rest, it may be pulled out now and again but the air between its pages will grow stale and it’s binding dusty. Like all great books, once celebrated its now simply remembered.

You taught them, aimed them in the right direction, and gave them the tools they’ll rely on when they are all on their own. You are happy for them, and are yourself excited to see them flourish, grow and become adults. But somewhere along the way you forgot to prepare yourself, I suppose that’s what happens though, you love them, cherish them, teach them and watch them step away.

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This is the Boundary Waters

There’s nothing as special as the earliest morning light, as it spills over the horizon, reflecting in the tiny drops of dew hanging from the pine trees in the forest. The coolness of the fresh air, the silence of the lake and the haunting call from a loon somewhere out on the water.

This is morning in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and there is nothing like it anywhere else in the world. It’s tranquil and serene. It’s where my heart and soul regenerate and where my mind slips away from all time.

Where casting off in a canoe and setting my paddle into the water is like holding hands with a loved one. It’s a place where one can breathe and sleep undisturbed under an unequivocally and brilliantly depthless field of stars.

Industrialization has no place here, this is for the wild, the pure, the natural world where the bears roam and the deer wander and people can regain a sense of self and wonder.

This is where the rains soak deep into the thick moss carpeting islands of granite, replenishing groves of uncultivated, rich blueberries.

This is a haven of pure spiritualism, freedom and peace, this is the Boundary Waters

It’s Four in the Morning

It was four in the morning when she rolled over and couldn’t seem to fall back to sleep. The window was open slightly and it was cold out but she liked the feel and smell of the fresh late fall air. She laid there on her back and watched the ceiling fan slowly spin around and around listened to her husband sleeping soundly next to her, she watched him for a while then decided to forfeit and get out of bed.

She stopped to peek in at her kids before making her way to the kitchen for a drink of water, and then she crossed the dining room to find a spot and curl up on the couch under a cozy throw and watch the clouds slowly pass in front of the moon out the front window.

This happens every now and again, she’ll watch the sky until it begins to turn from black to cobalt blue to shades of orange and yellow as it rises above the park across the street. She won’t turn on the TV, and she won’t read a book. She’ll just sit there and stare out the window at the sky, her throat will turn dry, her palms will begin to sweat and her heart begins to race. She isn’t sick, and she isn’t necessarily a morning person. She is one of the 1.4% of all American women who’ve served in the United States military. She is one of the 5.2% of the United States population who’ve served our country in times of war and conflict.

Those are small numbers; hell, it’s not easy for someone to make the sacrifice that she has made, not even she knew full well what she was in for when she signed up. The morning of the day she made that decision she did what all veterans find themselves doing before they swear in, they look at themselves and take full inventory, for her it was in the bathroom mirror, it was partially fogged over but she looked in her eyes through the reflection nonetheless. She looked at her cheekbones she got from her father, and her nose and chin she got from her mother. She looked at the color in her eyes and the deep seeded need to protect those less fortunate from her grandfather.

She stood there and thought about all that she loved in the world, she thought about her brothers and sisters and the little neighbor boys across the street and how sweet they were to her every time she walked past them to her car to go to work. Their dirty little faces as they played in the puddles in the street. She didn’t have a boyfriend then, nor did she have kids of her own.

She looked in that mirror and thought about all those around the world being oppressed and tortured and killed and brought up hiding in their homes from the fighting in the streets and she made a decision. She decided then and there to do something about it, she looked into her eyes and prayed to her God and with resolution determined the full value of her own life. She decided that her life and blood was worth sacrificing for the good of the young boys across the street, for the freedom of those whose faces she looked at in the news each night. She knows the statistics, she knows that the freedoms granted to the majority are fought for and maintained by the absolute minority. She knows Freedom isn’t free, that there is a price on it and someone has to pay that forward.

What she didn’t realize is that the sacrifices our veterans make doesn’t end when they leave the military, when they are done with their tours of duty. That sacrifice is echoed in their daily lives when they go to the grocery store and find it difficult to determine which box of cereal to choose from knowing there are many whom don’t have that liberty. It is echoed, when they fall awake in the early morning hours just before dawn, and they spend hours looking out at the moon waiting for the safety of the noise of the day to begin, when quiet and stillness is frightening and constantly threatens to spill over your brow in sweat as you relive moments of bloody conflict and turmoil in your sleep.

7.3% of all living Americans have served in the military at some point in their lives. Please say thank you, whether or not you agree with their ideals, they made a conscious decision to sacrifice themselves for the rest of us, and that deserves recognition.