When you get a little bigger your mom and I are going to introduce you to the maples in the sugarwoods. You should know them because they can teach you patience.
We’ll take you to Ginny’s and we’ll watch her bees haul gold. They’ll teach you thrift.
We’ll go to Andy’s farm and watch him turn the Valley of Vermont. The rich soil will teach you generosity.
We’ll show you the morels where they grow amidst poison ivy vines – together they’ll teach you risk and reward.
We’ll take you to the woodlot and we’ll watch Dat-Dat run his sawmill. The green lumber will teach you refinement and utility. Mimi will show you the pond, where the raccoons will teach you curiosity; the ermine will teach you courage; the otters will teach you joy.
Your uncles and I will take you to the great swamp, where the green heron will teach you to fish, if you’re observant. The sundew will teach you to trap. Run the edges with your bay dog and she’ll teach you to hunt.
Hiya and Jamie and I will take you to the East Mountain and show you the deer we share it with; they’ll teach you caution and grace.
The black trumpets we forage will hone your vision, and the cordwood we cut, your strength. The sunrise will hone your faith.
The trout lily will teach you modesty.
The wood thrush will teach you to sing.
The house cat will teach you rhythm.
The wind will teach you to dance.
When it gets a little warmer we’ll take you to the stream where your mom and I went riverwalking 9 months ago. The boulders will give you a sense of architecture and space; the forget-me-nots on the sandbar an appreciation of beauty. The trout who live here will teach you to be persistent, and the mink, to be cunning.
When you’re young and scared the roiling water will teach you to be brave – we’ll flex our thighs against the current and charge towards the river’s source.
When you’re a self-absorbed teenager, the water will teach you to be humble – we’ll jump from the river bank and study the holes in the water where we land, see just how permanent an impression we leave on the world.
The permanent impression comes later, see. You’ll notice it when you’re my age, standing in the same water with a kid by your side, flexing her thighs against the current. The kid will teach you love, and purpose, and peace.