Early Spring 2008
Last weekend, I had the great joy of taking my grandson, Tristin, on his first trip to a pumpkin patch -- a 100-acre ranch complete with hay rides, face painting, and petting corral -- the photo op of every grandma's dreams. Tristin is so accustomed to his ''paparazzi'' family that he was posing on a giant pumpkin before my camera was even out of its case. With this winning picture taking place in front of me, my heart sank as I discovered my camera was broken. Normally, this would have put a damper on our day, but this day was different. Less than a week prior, raging wildfires had forced both my daughter and me to evacuate our homes. Not only was my home in the line of fire, but so was the Chinaberry building. As I drove westward at 3:00 a.m. after our evacuation, I felt as though I was tearing myself away from my history (i.e., all my sacred memorabilia) as well as my future (my wonderful job here at Chinaberry).
I recently asked someone who had lost her home of 35 years how she was able to cope with such a loss, and she told me that you don't need souvenirs to be reminded of all the beautiful moments. I thought back to a magical afternoon when I was fifteen and planted a ''forest'' with my dad, using dozens of seedlings from a local timber company. He talked about how one day the trees would tower over me, my children, and grandchildren, and that I would think of him and our time together that day. No photos exist of this beautiful memory, but that doesn't diminish the smile on my face as I remember that day, so I know this woman's words are true.
Back at the pumpkin patch, my daughter and I shrugged as we smiled at each other, knowing that it was okay that there would be no pictures to memorialize our day. It turned out to be even more than okay, as we found ourselves feeling more present than ever, our focus on each other and the day rather than on trying to capture it on film. For both of us, I suspect, it will go down as a day to remember. Why is it that it often takes a brush with disaster to remind us of our priorities?
As you read this, it will be a new year -- a year bringing us Valentines, Easter baskets, and plenty of photo ops. My goal is to never again get more caught up in the souvenir collecting than in the living. With warm wishes to you all for a year full of living your priorities and being in the moment with those you love.