November 17, 2011

I'm not a squirrel. Really. I'm not...

I must admit here and now, I have a few obsessions. Mt. Everest is one of them. I have longed to climb that mountain for years, and like I said once before, I've read more books about Everest than I have books on marriage, homeschooling, or parenting.

There are other things I'm obsessed with; things that are closer to home and, unlike climbing to the top of the world, things that are actually within my grasp. (One of them is collecting heart shaped rocks. God-made rather than man made; they are everywhere if you take the time to look for them.)

Another is gathering acorns and fall leaves. (Oak leaves are my very most favorite.) I have yet to discover why I do this. If I believed in reincarnation I would guess I'd been a squirrel in a previous life.

However, since I'm not a squirrel, nor have I ever been a squirrel, there must be some other reason for this strange behavior. One thing is clear-I drive my family nuts with it.

We hike nearly every weekend in the autum and every autumn it happens; we put our hiking shoes on, (or our sneakers since that's all that's necessary here in the Midwest) and off we go, out to enjoy the crisp fresh air, the colorful leaves, the deep blue sky, and as many trails as we can find.

I miss out on so much when we autumn hike. I very rarely look up or around. My eyes are focused on the ground. I'm so busy concentrating on, and collecting squirrel food and leaves that I miss the big picture-the beauty up and around and over my head.

I have a shoe box full of leaves I've gathered over the years, and a gallon size zip lock bag full of acorns. Once in awhile I'll use them for a project or a fall centerpiece, but more often than not, the nuts and leaves stay hidden away. I know they're there, and it's a comforting knowledge, but why? Why do I do this and what is the need?

Like I said before, this need to collect is somewhat annoying to my family and I think they are secretly concerned about my sanity.

The other day our youngest son took a walk with me. As we walked I kept pointing out leaves that were just too pretty to leave behind.
"Oh Barrett! There's one! Grab it before it blows away..."
"There's another one. Look how red it is! Would you nab it for me?.."

Finally at one point, the poor boy nearly snapped. I was standing in the middle of the road, chasing after a leaf when a car came zipping around the corner. My son yelled and pulled me out of the way.

"Mommy, you're going to get killed looking for leaves. I bet you'd try gathering them if we were caught in a storm!"

Then, when we got home he drew this picture, just for me:


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