One of the greatest things in life is the little things you learn along the way. I don’t mean like how to change the oil in your car or the best way to roast a chicken. I mean simple ordinary things that a child could know, but somehow have managed to escape a person well into adulthood, ordinary and basic things. Let me share two examples.
When my daughter was three we had a birthday party here at the house. Since she has a winter birthday I thought we could do a little craft of decorating paper snow flakes and then hanging them with string at different heights on a hanger. Voila a winter mobile! I couldn’t find any snowflakes the right size at the craft store so I thought I would just make them myself by folding the paper and cutting shapes into it the way I’d learned to many years ago. So proud of my resourcefulness and thrift, I happily folded lots of paper circles into wedge shapes and cut into and around them. But as I sat there on the couch in the evenings, fingers sore and bits of paper everywhere, flake after flake was a disappointment. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how elaborate the cuts or folds, they didn’t look like snowflakes for some reason. I couldn’t figure it out. Despite my melted expectations, we did the craft anyway. The kids didn’t care of course, but I did. That is until recently when I learned that all snowflakes have six points. Aha!
Last month our family went to a U-Pick orchard. My apple-aficionado husband was interested in the Empire apples, but only ones that had a lot of red, as there were some that weren’t ripe yet. So I’m looking for the red ones and then realize that the the apples in the sun ripen first and where the sun hits them they are red. Where there is shadow from stem, leaves or other apples it stays green. Huh. I’d just thought a tree fruit’s coloring was random. So now when I reach into the drawer for an apple I study it before taking a bite. I look it over and if there are green areas, try to figure out what was shading it with that particular shape. It’s a bit like looking for pictures in the clouds–only tastier.
Oh, gorgeous natural world! Creation so simple and constant, so intricate and orderly. How humbling and exhilarating it is to be your lifelong student.