Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Slice It Up


I am in a very remote location with no time to blog this week.  

May I suggest you take a stroll back in time and reminisce with A Little Slice of da Harbor?  Every time I reread some of those posts, I think, "Man.  That was really a good blog!"

Let's not let it go to waste!

Scroll back through the years.  Watch some videos.  Remember how crazy I used to be.  Now is the time.  You just have to click that link.

Thank you!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Power of Hugs

"Braeden, can I have a hug?" any one of his many admirers will ask. 

If he is busy with other things, he might decline, but usually he will walk right over to the person who asked, put his arms up and wrap them around the person's neck.  Sometimes he even pats their back with his right hand.

"Oh, you give the best hugs, Braeden!" they will often say after his brief (or sometimes lingering) embrace.

Because, you know what?  He does give the best hugs.  He hugs from the bottom of his heart.  Brady P. knows what a hug is for, and he genuinely transfers his love to the other person -- melting them from the inside.

"Oh, you just made my day!" they will sometimes say.  That's a big compliment.  All those things are.

And for that person to recognize the value in that meaningful moment means a lot to me.  It is one seemingly small thing that makes us as humans feel connected to each other.

A hug says a lot about a person.

A hug is both giving and receiving at the same time.

It is a wordless connection between two people.  

A meeting of hearts, whether brief or drawn out.

You don't always get what you put into a hug.  And you don't always give what you get.

Some people think that a hug is a formality.  Like, "Oh, they're family, so I'm obligated" or "Well, I haven't seen them for years, so it would be rude not to give them a hug."

A forced hug is a fake hug.  You may as well not even bother.  It can be awkward

If both people mean it, it helps save the world.

I am not kidding.

A true hug causes two souls to connect on the physical plane. What happens between those two people can be very emotional.

Think about the reasons we hug:
  • To say good-bye
  • To say hello
  • To say I'm sorry
  • To offer emotional support

There can be more, but I think those are the biggies.  Those situations can be emotional in themselves.  But when you unabashedly press your chest into someone else's while your arms are wrapped around their shoulders or torso and you squeeze your fingers into their body and bury your face in their neck and smell their scent and feel their energy, well, that causes ripples in the universe.

If the hug is genuine and pure in intention, it makes positive ripples... that help save the world.

Just think about this for one moment.  Pretend that every single person on this earth turned to the person next to them, (with no one left out) and gave them a hug as sincere as the one I just mentioned.

A hug with no judgements.  A hug just focused on connecting with another person and feeling what that truly means.

At that moment, when the whole world is hugging, what do you think would happen on earth?  It would be a big ball of love and satisfaction with no room for hate or loneliness. Wouldn't that be so wonderful?  The animals would probably notice and all hug each other too.

But wait.

What if every single person on this earth loved it so much that they then found another person to hug?  And they just all kept hugging other people for a few more minutes.  Don't you think that would boost moral?  Don't you think there would be peace on earth for a little while?

I think it would last even longer.

It would be wonderful.  It fills my heart just thinking about it.

I just googled it and found that there is actually a National Hugging Day.  It was founded in 1986 and is celebrated on January 21st.  But once a year is not enough.

How do you give a hug?  Are you all in?  Do you shake the other person around a bit in your arms?  Are you always the last to let go?  Are you the first to let go?  Do you stay as far from the person as a hug will permit?

Pay attention next time, if you aren't sure.  Or, heck.  Just find someone to hug right now if you genuinely want to. 

Brady P. knows how to give a hug.  So do I.  And so do many other people I know.  Some people are such good huggers that I think about them when I need a hug.  The energy manifested in a hug is that powerful.  It can draw tears.

I encourage you to be that good of a hugger.  You will make a difference in someone's life each time you hug.  Then, my friend, then we will be that much closer to saving the world... one heart at a time.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Nature's Obstacle Course

As the snow finishes melting in the woods, the creeks and falls really come to life.  One spot Brady P. and I can easily go to is Manganese Falls. 

But we don't always go to the upper part like most people.  Nope.  We are not most people.  We go under the bridge like little trolls.  We sit in the shade among the pines and cedars as the last rush of the falls bubbles by.  He throws pine cones into the froth, and I enjoy the peace, sounds and seclusion.

If you are bummed that I am not going to focus on the upper falls, please visit this post from A Little Slice of Da Harbor blog for a video of Manganese Falls from the past.

Because here, you're going to go on an adventure with me and my three-year-old.

Last week we hiked down to the bridge at the lower falls from Manganese Road.  Do you know where that is?  Turn onto Manganese Road at the Post office.  Less than half a mile from there, a two-track gravel road veers off to the left.  In about 1,000 feet, you'll come to a sturdy bridge that leads to the Kamikazee Trail (which I don't believe is currently maintained).

But that bridge goes right over the bottom of the falls.  Here is a picture of that spot from this week.

Lower Manganese Falls

Then we ducked down under the bridge to our serenity.  Braeden doesn't like it as much as I do because there are no rocks to throw.

So the two-track to get there was an obstacle course last week.  B was out of the stroller, walking.  I pushed an empty stroller (someone had to!).

We came across a down tree.  It laid along the ground.

"Braeden, what do we do?" I asked him.  "We have to get to the other side of that tree!"

He stopped for a moment.  Then put two hands on the top of the tree, swung one leg over, then swung the other leg over.

"You made it!" I exclaimed.

Up ahead, we found another down tree, but this one was at an angle, partially off the ground and covered in pointy, broken off branches.

Braeden eyed this one up a little more pensively.  He put two hands on the trunk, but one got poked by a sticker branch.

"Ah!" he looked up at me, rubbing his hand.

"I will help!" I said instinctively.  And I almost carried him right over it, but I stopped.  I knew he could do it, and I wanted him to problem solve.

I repositioned his hands on the trunk.

"Find the smooth parts, Braeden," I told him.  "Good!  Now swing one leg over.  You can do it."

Instead of doing it for him, I coached him as he tried to figure it out himself.  He did it.  

Later we came to another tree that was suspended at the height of his forehead.  I laughed when he just walked right into it and bumped his head.  I really thought he saw it there.

"Ah!" he shouted, disapprovingly, rubbing his noggin.

"How do we get past this one, Braeden?" I asked.

He ducked and crawled through.  Perfect.  I did the same and made sure he saw me.

So that was fun.  It was great to see him problem solve in the woods.  Those are precious "common sense" skills that seem to be dying off in today's society, so he needs to learn them.

Now this story is funny to me because, on Monday, I had to do the problem solving in the woods.

Instead of taking the clear road like usual, I decided to take the JLG Trail.  Now, I haven't done that since Braeden was in my belly.  It's no wonder I don't take that way.  It goes through private property, is not maintained and has a pond in the middle of it in the spring time.

I knew all those things.  But I am stubborn, and I like adventures and challenges.  So I decided to go for it.

I pushed him in his stroller, so he was contained.  He shouted each time I thrusted the wheels through the mud or tilted his cart into uncomfortable angles or accidentally bumped something or went over a bunch of branches or had to carry the whole rig over a log.

He was not happy.

B expressing his feelings about the "trail" ahead

Pictured above was the biggest obstacle... at least I hoped it was!

Plenty of shouting from a little boy and one sweaty, panting mama later, we made it through!  Hooray!

We crested the hill to get out of the bog, and Braeden quieted down a bit.  That was perfect because, guess what I came across.

A full-bloomed patch of Arbutus.


I have a couple patches that I've been keeping an eye on this spring, but none of them looked like they would blossom by the time I left Copper Harbor today.  Sniffing their fragrant scent each spring is one of my favorite activities.

So there I was.  Eyeballs deep in a patch of Arbutus.

Taking in the Arbeautious

That is climactic moment for a wildflower enthusiast, all right!

I figured that was my reward for enduring the screaming bog and other obstacles along a recently neglected trail.  I'll take it!

The next ironic part was that, as we hiked back up the usual two-track to the road, all those trees were cleaned up!  Ha!  So Brady P. got to throw his frisbee in the clear the whole way back home.  Well, almost the whole way.  I had to put him back into his stroller when he got sassy and refused to listen.

He definitely is a three-year-old with a mind of his own.  I just want to make sure he is able to use that mind to the best of his ability.  He is already making a difference in this world.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Even the Little Schoolhouse

Like an artist of any medium, sitting in front of a blank slate (or screen) before you know your subject/inspiration for that piece is pretty much pointless.

So here I sit in a little office room at the school trying to figure out what to write about for the day.  The kids are having snack one room over.   Gold Fish crackers.  The colorful ones.

Then I hear chatter from across the hall.

"Braeden, can you find the green fish?"

"He found it!  Can you find the yellow fish?"

"Braeden, can you find two fish?  Yay!  How about three fish?"

"Braeden, can you say "f" for fish?"

"Braeden, can you keep your hands on your lap?"  Then I hear a chorus of the "Hands in your lap" song that Mrs. G made up for him.

"Braeden, can you keep eating?"

And then later:

"Can I read Braeden a story?"

Wow.  Those students really care about him.  They are amazed at what he knows, and they encourage him to show off his skills.

Even though they are supposed to be eating quietly, I still love to hear them quiz him.  And applaud him.  And keep him in line.  And marvel at him.

Not only do I appreciate the attention they show, but I appreciate that it is the students, and not just the teachers (and Mom) who are engaging.

It's the kids.

He loves kids.

Kids have an ability to relate to and reach other kids that most of us society-conforming/self-conscious adults don't have.  We just lose it over time...

... Unless we vow to be a kid forever...

But that concept would fill a different blog.  Let me know if you'd like to hear it some day.

Now is the time for me to express my gratitude for the students and teachers at the little "one room" schoolhouse at the northern most point in Michigan.  To the students and teachers who take the time to get to know and encourage my son's strengths.  Who understand and extend extra patience to the preschooler with the extra chromosome.  Who, at the same time, uphold the same standards of behavior and expectations that the other students have.

Yes, I am grateful.

Braeden loves to go to school.  He loves the teachers and the students.  He loves to learn.  He loves to get out of his own house for a bit and see other people besides Mom. (Okay, I'm assuming that last part).

And it's all good for him.  It's all good for everyone.  

Living in a town with limited access to everything except gift shops, the splendors of nature and a wonderful community, one never knows how a child with "special needs" will fair in the education department.

But I am tickled.

His speech pathologist in Calumet and his physical therapist in Houghton are each thrilled with his progress.  He is nearly exceeding the goals they set at the beginning of the year, and he's only half way through!

So thank you, little Copper Harbor one room schoolhouse.  You are helping this little boy maximize his full potential.  

That is my biggest goal for him.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Crane Gang

So Mr. Brady P. is visiting Grammy and Grampy right now.  I get a little break from momming while I get to go be myself.

One way I am doing that is to get certified in Wilderness First Aid over in Grand Marais, Minnesota this weekend.  Woo woo!  Pretty excited about that as I move forward with giving wildflower tours and get closer to teaching mountain bike fundamentals right here in beautiful Copper Harbor.

Another way I get to be me is by adventuring out on the trails where the snow disappears more and more each day.  No snowshoes for this girl anymore!

While I have been hiking places and seeing sites, I have to report on one moment in particular.  One 60 degree day, as I hoofed it up to the top of a ridge, I heard Sandhill Cranes.

I love Sandhill Cranes.  They are enormous birds that migrate through in the spring and fall.  Their sound is chilling and exciting to me all at once.  I find them to be majestic, transitional, rare and ancient.  Google them if you are curious.

I have been seeing and hearing the cranes for the last week or two.  I always stop in my tracks when I hear their guttural call and look up.  Sometimes I see them, usually I don't. 

I had seen a couple before that day, and I cherished each moment.

That morning, however, as I got to the top of the ridge, and the south breezes whooshed into me, I saw more than one.  I saw 18.  18 plus another flock too far away to count.  They were gliding on the thermals between two ridges.   

They were there just for me.

And you.

Because I had my camera with me!

So please enjoy this video.  You'll want to turn up the sound in order to hear their voices, but be aware that the wind got ripping at one point, and the sound will irritate your ears through your speakers.  Sorry about that.  I just had an old iPhone for equipment.

And yes, you can hear how excited and overwhelmed with awe I was as I moaned toward the end.  I can't help it.  When my heart implodes like that, I can't be quiet.

Another point to note is that THE HARBOR IS OPEN!!!  When Brady P. comes home, he is going to have a big surprise waiting for him:

His rock throwing beach!

I threw three splooshers in honor of him today.  But I sure am excited to take him down there for the first time this spring.

Ahhh, yes.  Because spring is really here.