I got up at 5:45 a.m. last Sunday for a long walk by myself. Not a stop-every-three-metres-to-check-out-this-insect-or-that-bug kind of walk, just a steady moving walk.
I’ve been sick and I craved the fresh air and exercise. Quite frankly, I needed coffee. I ran out, and if you are a mom with two under five and you drink coffee, you know it’s pretty much a mortal sin to run out. Getting up early and walking to the coffee shop was my penance.
Anyway, I crept out of bed and got dressed as quietly as anyone comprised of half snot and half arthritis could. I thought I was doing quite well until I turned around to see my son not just awake, but upright in front of me.
”There goes my walk,” I thought to myself. Actually no, hang on a second here. I noticed his eyes were slightly glazed over and the lines of his blankie were still imprinted on his puffy little morning face so I took a chance and tucked him into my bed. To my great delight, he rolled over into the warm spot I’d abandoned just a few minutes before, stuck his thumb in his mouth fell back to sleep.
I knew the clock was ticking. That boy would be awake again within an hour so my morning coffee stroll became more urgent.
Speaking of brisk, it was a bit chilly so I stuck my hands in my pockets only to discover a small rock and a very flat, very dead dandelion — both gifts I received at some point — I don’t remember when because I receive those special offerings from the children nearly every time we go outside.
I got my coffee and my walk continued. I saw three snails, two slugs, Voltorb the Super Beetle, a wood bug, a black cat in the ditch watching the water drip from an outflow pipe, a wild bunny, make that two, no, three wild bunnies, and a particularly annoying bee of some type. These are the things I now notice on my morning walks. Instead of quiet contemplation it’s a running list of bugs and animals. Thanks, kids. I also saw two Nutty Buddies (squirrels, to you) and a woodpecker that startled the bejeezus out of me by jumping out of a bush and onto a tree trunk right in front of me. I may or may not have spilled my coffee at that point.
I also saw Grandpa’s Pet Robin.
When I was little my mom quite often took my sister and I to visit my widowed grandpa. It’s likely smaller than I remember but to us at the time he had a large backyard with a lot of grass and a little garden featuring a bird bath. Every time we were there, there always seemed to be a robin visiting the yard as well.
My mom called it Grandpa’s Pet Robin though odds are it was likely not the same bird every time. To this day, my mom, along with my sister and I, and our kids, call all robins Grandpa’s Pet Robin. It’s one of the few remaining memories I have of my grandfather’s home. It’s a poetic and heartwarming memory that seems to remind me who I am and where I come from.
“Voltorb” does not elicit the same response from me. It’s the name the kids gave a giant beetle in our yard the other day after capturing it in a small bin and trying to get it to stay there as their pet. Imagine how excited they were when I returned from my walk and reported seeing Voltorb on the grassy edge of a sidewalk some 100 metres from our house. Odds are it’s not the same one but they don’t need to know that. And if in 25 years they’re still pointing out Voltorb the Super Beetle and it gives them a heartwarming memory that seems to remind them of who they are and where they came from, well then move aside Grandpa’s Pet Robin, Voltorb it is.