Michael and The Baa-Baa Crew as he named them.
The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches
but to reveal to him his own. ~ Benjamin Disraeli
We had been on a winter road trip and had just left Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where we spent Christmas. We even found a restaurant that served both rack of lamb (my favorite) and pizza (Michael’s favorite) for Christmas Eve dinner!
Now we were heading east and south toward home. It was a beautiful blue-sky day with the sun shining on the new snow that had fallen during the night. The sun shone and the air was windless. Thus, several inches of snow sat atop fence posts and the occasional mailbox. I was breathless in awe at the rugged, articulated beauty of the Wind River mountain range! Perhaps the most spectacular I had ever seen! And I’ve seen a few.
As we drove along, I wanted to share recognition of this abundant beauty with Michael. He was about 10 at the time. He sat in the backseat, occupying himself listening to The Chronicles of Narnia on tape and reading along. As a result, he wasn’t looking out the window so I asked him to pause the tape and said, “Michael! Just look at how incredibly beautiful these mountains are.” His response? “Mom, we have been looking at mountains every day since we left home! You know what I think? These mountains are just more rocks with snow on them!”
Wow! That these glorious giants might be seen as “just more rocks with snow on them” had NEVER occurred to me. As I drove across Wyoming, I mused for some time after that. I wondered what brings me to having experiences of some physical places which are so compelling that I am moved emotionally by their magnificence. And I wondered whether there was something I could do to bring Michael to a place of appreciation.
This led me to reflect on how often during this trip he had shown appreciation. For example, there was the farm we visited where he named the sheep the “Baa-Baa Crew;” the early morning sun, the mist and the flocks of birds over the Great Salt Lake; the mountain goat we stopped to watch as he stood right on the road; the bison grazing in the Black Hills. Just as geography was a theme for me, I noticed that his theme was animals. He was so appreciative in these situations, in fact, that each time he didn’t want to leave.
I also reflected on how much he loved our dog, Bibi, and how well he had taken care of her throughout this trip. Bibi left us at 17 years old on Sunday, March 27, 2011. So these days it’s our current angel of a dog, Katie, that he loves.
So…I finished my musing with appreciation for Michael in general and, in specific, I was appreciating that he was able to accurately give me a glimpse into his honest experience at that moment. I was also appreciating that we are different and that we see the world in different ways. Magnificent!
Note: I also love animals. But even more, I revel in Michael’s appreciation and love for them. We have two wild turkeys who live in our neighborhood. They visit us almost every day. Michael has kept track of them since they were babies two years ago. We watch animal movies like Red Dog (Australian Outback in summer) and Togo (Alaskan mountains in winter). Right now we’re watching Critter Fixers which is about some marvelous, loving vets. And we love the PBS All Creatures Great and Small. And so on.
Michael and Bibi (2010)
Michael brushing Katie (2021)
Photos by Barbara