Tuesday, January 15, 2008
TURNING MY HAND
Grandchildren, among all their other unknowing kindnesses, point out to us one by one, step by step, all the countless things we ourselves had to learn (or unlearn) to become as and who we are. With our own children there was no time in the blur to note such fine points; this new privilege is another of the gifts that grandkids bring to us in their little hands.
When they come to visit, and out in the garden I give them a rake or a shovel to help me with, I am caught unawares by the fact that they don't know how to use these things (that's not inborn?!) so I have to show them how to hold them and then how to use them (I used to not know how to use a shovel and a rake!), and for example how to extra-hold the rake with one hand so as to pick up leaves against it with the other hand (I had to learn that!), or how to best light a fire (they touch the lighter to the top of the leafpile) so I show them how heat rises, and they feel a new power when they light the pile at the bottom and the fire complies; how to get leverage when using pruning shears (they love the sharp knowledge of cutting stuff into pieces) and how to hold a pruning saw (the branch came off!) and then in the house when I add wood to the woodstove, whatever they're doing the twins run to look through the open stove doorway into the fire, amazed that there's a blazing fire here in our own living room-- in all their few years they've never seen such a thing! Big sister Kaya likes to add some wood to the fire; when I open the stove door she gets a stick from the kindling pile, tosses it in quickly and gingerly, pulling back at the heat, the twins still just watching from a distance that inferno roaring with all its red tongues right here in the room inside that open door, and what amazement it is in myself to behold in the grandgirls the fascination at every single detail of all these things, all these actions and tasks, right down to the heft and weft of the mass of the nature and the gravity, every second of having to learn how water behaves, and ash, and leaves in the wind, and dirt and fire and spark, handle and blade and twig, how to run with boots on sandals on sneakers on barefoot going updown stairs and hills on grass or snow or sand the infinity of it all how ever do we do it, how do we ever learn it all, how ever do we make it to my age, where I stand right now without the slightest idea of how many such things I've come to know, or how I learned them like turning my hand...