A "fine summer day" where I live is sunny with the temperature and the humidity over ninety. One one such day in the summer of my son's fifth year, I was engaged in plugging grass in my front yard.
Plugging grass was one of my least favorite things to do when I was twelve and my knees and back would actually cooperate with almost anything the rest of me wanted to do. No matter how dismal. Over-forty grass plugging stretches even the fun-finding powers of a dedicated epicure to the breaking point.
My wife, the Irish Redhead, and my son, the Future Rock Star, were sitting on the edge of the front porch taking a breather. FRS was occupying himself by dropping a rock into the dirt of an as yet unplugged spot. The driest dust on Earth plumed with each plop of the stone.
I was occupying my mind contemplating the pattern of lush green checkerboard squares I was inflicting on the planet when I heard my son say,
"Momma, what happened to all the dinosaurs?"
To which the IR replied "Well, there are a lot of theories about that. Most scientists think that a huge meteor from outer space hit the Earth down by Mexico and a cloud of dust blotted out the Sun causing the temperature to go way down. That killed all the dinosaurs' food and they had no way to live."
The stone continued to hit the dusty ground with a plop, plop, plop. From the corner of my eye I could see FRS staring intently at the puffs of dust rising up after each impact. Then,
"Momma, are there still meteors out in space today?"
"Oh sure, millions of them. They are all over the place."
Plop, plop, plop.
"Gosh, that could be dangerous....."
Plop, plop, plop....
"...but we can't worry about that today...."
FRS put the stone on the porch step and ran off through the sprinkler.
I have that little stone on my desk. Small stone. Big lesson. One of my favorite pleasures of parenthood is listening to my natural philosopher son. Try listening to a child. You'll learn new things or recover gifts you left somewhere along the way. Even a mundane chore like plugging grass can provide Epic gifts if you do it in the right company. And if you listen.
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