Nature and cultural awareness journal:
I pointed to a rock overhang overlooking the valley and said, “let’s stop and evaulate”. We found our seats after checking for scorpions and snakes…they were out and about in full array and we didn’t wish to have an encounter.
“What do you see Robbie?”
“What else?”, I said.
“Mom, I’m afraid a cyclone will come and sweep us away. The desert has storms that happen so fast and I’m scared we will get hit by lightening.”
“Do you see that sky Robbie? What color is it?
“Puffy and some whispy.”
“what is the wind doing?”, I asked.
“Blowing the clouds away.”
“Right. And if you look at our location above the plateau, there is blue sky and no chance of a tornado. When there is a tornado or cyclone, the air pressure drops and your ears may pop like when we go down in an airplane. You will also smell ozone in the air when a storm happens. I’ll make sure to point it out.”
I was feeling impatient and I was in “let’s get this done mode”. In a sense I was asking him to pay attention yet not paying attention to him. It’s not that what I was saying was not correct, my head was being logical but my heart was cut off. He was anxious. I was teaching at him, denying his experience and condescending.
We walked back down, me realizing I had not gotten us to the right turn off, and having spent already 6 hours in the desert hiking around we decided to go back to the campsite and rest.
His sense of “Storm” did not diminish. And my obliviousness didn’t either. We went to sleep and at midnight I awoke to the trailer rocking. With a large crash, the solar panel I so proudly put together the morning before crashed to the ground. I ran outside, the full moon at it’s peak but nowhere in sight. Instead a full raging storm was blasting through, there was no smell of ozone, just driving rain that poured in sheets and whipped up the picnic table tablecloth like a balloon. I laid the other panel down, nervous about damage. It is a pretty powerful force that can drop an inch of rain in several minutes and lift up a 20 pound solar panel and drop it like a paper plate. I was grateful to not be in a tent and went back inside.
I lay there listening to the quiet followed by the rise in ferociousness of the wind. I started to remember one of the main reasons why I started this trip: to nurture the voice of my son and his profound sense of intuition. All children have this sense. For me and Robbie, both deeply empathic, I wanted him to understand that in the constancy of nature’s rhythms, it’s seasons, in the constancy of life and death, giving and receiving, there is an internal home of peace that can nurture and sustain us, and if we listen carefully offer us profound healing power.
Just the week before, he had a rising level of anxiety during our walk where there was never before. He kept saying “I don’t want to go that way I’m afraid we will run into snakes.” I again “took charge” and said let’s work with our fear shall we? He had never been afraid of snakes before, I didn’t want it to take hold.
So he took my hand, breathing, moving forward, me being the knowing parent.
As we walked forward he slowed down. There in front of us was a black snake. His head and neck looked black. Harmless I thought. We called out “Heh snake! Please move!” We waited and waited. It was not moving and stayed spread out on the trail making it difficult to walk by. So I took the long stick I was carrying (cringe here) and I pushed at it. And it was then that its ring neck and orange belly became apparent. Its little tail went into a coil and it reared up. Robbie wasn’t scared, he just watched, and the snake slithered into the underbrush.
Photo credit: A.T. Holycross
(Our snake was pitch black. The ring neck snake can vary in tones of blacks and grey with some not having an orange belly).
It was here I realized that he was not scared of snakes so much as having a sense ahead of time that the snake would happen and wanting to protect and be safe. He needed to know we would both be okay. Once the snake passed, he started singing, and got back on his bike as we entered the camp grounds.
Here I was thinking I was teaching Robbie to remember to listen when in effect he was teaching me, and to balance the wisdom of the “heart’s knowing” and the mind.
There is so much stimulation in children’s lives these days, so much busyness that they have no time or are too tired to refine and develop the potent and natural gift all children are born with, intuition and a deep level of awareness. Yet here I was with my busyness. By being able to be in their most natural state and to relax, children (and adults) remember peace and stillness, a recipe for health and wellbeing. And by bringing them into Nature, we foster healthy connections with the larger world and our own internal world.
The morning after the storm, I checked everything outside. All good. When Robbie woke up, he was very calm and happy, wanting to snuggle and play. I said, “thank you for warning me about the storm yesterday. I love to hear about all of your insights and ideas, and I also would love to hear about your feelings about different things.” He said, “okay mom!” And threw his arms around me, his hands in my armpits trying to tickle me. This is how I feel now! And he laughed out loud.
Post update: my solar panel did indeed shatter!