Tuesday, November 1, 2011

New Thing #61: Trees, the great mystery of football, and leaves

There is a fine line between planning and letting things just happen. I'm sure you've heard the old adage "fail to plan, plan to fail". That particular old saw often runs through my head and drives me to be more organized and better at thinking things through. But then there's that saying about how the best things happen when you least expect them. Sometimes I find that when I am too committed to seeing something through, it all goes wrong. When I just roll with the proverbial punches and let things happen, sometimes it all goes even better than I imagine. I suppose it all comes down to being flexible and like the great philosopher Kenny Rogers advised, knowing when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em, knowing when to walk away and knowing when to run (is that song stuck in your head now, too?).

I changed my mind several times about what we were going to do today. Between another jam-packed weekend and our Hallowe'en adventures yesterday, the LP had had 3 late nights and were up to high doh (thank you, Maeve Binchy, for introducing me to that expression back when I had time to read your books) today. They had a half-day at daycare today and LP1 was so tired she fell asleep on the short drive back. LP2 was beyond tired and elected to skip his nap this afternoon. LP1 is still getting over her cold and alternates between wanting to be snuggled and ripping around the house. LP2 just wants to get into absolutely everything, from pulling everything out of the kitchen cupboards to climbing up the stairs as fast as he can. My initial instinct was to have a quiet afternoon indoors to allow them to rest and regroup. But as the sun beamed out from behind a cloud and it warmed up, I started rethinking that plan. Grandpa always says that being outside "knocks the starch out of you" and is the best way to tire children out. Of course, when we were kids he did always say that "best thing for you is some fresh air" when we were sick and I do remember Auntie K dutifully going outside once when she was sick and throwing up beside a tree. I just sprayed water everywhere, roaring with laughter at that memory. But Auntie K did recover, so possibly he was onto something there.

But throwing up on trees is not the point of this post. The point I am taking forever to get to is that I decided to change the plan from being quiet and inside to getting everyone outside. But beyond that, there was no plan. And that is what was stressing me out. What were we going to do? Fortunately, trying to get coats and shoes on the LP and get everyone out the door prevented me from developing an ulcer over my lack of direction. I put the LP in the ninky nonk and we set off. Where? I had no idea. I just knew that we needed to keep moving forward before someone started to cry.

As we were heading down the street, LP1 started pointing out things she thought were interesting. I had a sudden attack of inspiration. I told her that I would take pictures of things she liked on our walk. I would later come to regret this, but LP1 was immediately on board with this plan and lost no time in directing me to take pictures.

 This is a tree with beautiful leaves.

This leaf is on the ground. But not with that orange tree.

This tree has very nice branches.

These are beautiful clouds. But only these ones. Not the ones to the right of them.

This, apparently, is a tree she climbed with Uncle L (I have my doubts about this one).

All of these photographs were taken before we even got to the stop sign at the end of our street. I am not a photographer for National Geographic. It may surprise you to know that I'm not a photographer at all. And, if you really must know, I suspect little hands got into our camera and it is now on its very last legs. Taking a picture has become both a rigorous and embarrassing process that involves removing the battery and fiddling with several buttons after every shot just to get it to work again. I'm pretty sure it is going to go to camera heaven at any given moment. I'm telling you all this because I was tired of taking a picture every three steps. I picked up some random leaves on the ground and gave two to each of the children. This captured their attention. Here was something brightly coloured with an interesting texture that could be pulled apart. Operation 'Stop Taking Photos' was a success.

We rounded the corner and came upon the local highschool. A football team was practicing on the field. I thought this would be of interest to the LP so we went in for a closer look. The team seemed to be standing around, discussing who-knows-what for quite a while. Not interesting. When they lined up and started to do...ummm...football practice type things, the LP became more interested. Unfortunately, this meant LP1 started to ask questions about what they were doing and why. I had no idea. Although I have watched many football games in my day, I've come to the conclusion that me "watching" a game is the same as an illiterate person "reading" the newspaper. We both know there's something going on there, but can't figure it out, so we stare and nod as if we can follow what is going on. I have had many people attempt to explain football to me and I still do not understand. Here's a secret: when I watch a football game, I'm usually looking at other things...like funny last names or what kind of shoes they are wearing or advertising on the field or what the people on the bench are doing or scanning the crowd for the inevitable fat guy with his face painted. I am, therefore, the worst person to ask what is going on in a football practice. I decided two things: it was time to get out of there and that this is another area that falls  squarely into the category of "Things Daddy Will Address".

 Why are they all wearing different jerseys? I don't know. Why are they broken off into small groups? What's with the kid in the red jersey? More things I don't know. Or, really, care to know. I wonder if their calves were chilly. Why are they wearing what looks to be manpris for their uniform? I bet none of these guys would be caught in capri pants normally.

We were on our way back home when we came across a giant pile of leaves under a tree. Hmmm. I looked at the leaves and I looked at the LP. And then I knew just what to do. I filled their wagon up with leaves until they were covered up to their laps. They looked at me in surprise...and then started throwing the leaves in the air, at each other and onto the ground, letting out loud and contagious laughs as they did so. The three of us were standing in the middle of the sidewalk, laughing away. I got as many pictures as I could. Whenever they had thrown all the leaves out, they would ask for me. I filled that wagon with bright yellow leaves several times. Both kids were loving playing with the leaves. LP2 would throw some up in the air and then would bury his hands in the pile. LP1 was like the Tasmanian Devil, whirling and throwing and generally getting the leaves out as fast as she could take them in.

When I noticed that their cheeks were turning pink (and let's be honest, when I got tired of filling the wagon), we said goodbye to the leaves and continued home, still laughing and talking about leaves. There really is something to be said for not always knowing what you're going to do next.

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