Father’s Day ❤ Lessons and Love. ❤
A neighbor complimented me recently on the way I greeted his dog, back of hand presented for sniffing, and I thought of my dad, who taught us to do that and to approach new animals and new people with respect and friendship. He and Mom also allowed us to enjoy and care for a variety of pets, including the mouse that Mom found in the bathtub and a baby bird my brothers found, and my brothers’ snakes, which did teach me not to be afraid of them. A box turtle who spent one winter in our house would bite my mom’s toe if she hadn’t noticed it waiting by the refrigerator when it wanted to be fed.
Dad taught lessons at convenient teaching moments. When a drunk neighbor shouted from the street for my dad to come fight him, my father told us that would be foolish, and then the man didn’t know what he was doing, and then moved us away from the front room to be safe. Walking away from a fight as the sensible option . . . which is just what I did when dealing with a girl who was inexplicably eager to fight with me; I changed our route home, assuring my brothers that Mom would approve when I explained. She did, and probably did “mom negotiations” to resolve the problem.
Probably the most important lessons had to do with safe driving and dealing with reckless drivers and other hazards. Dad would say, as an aggressive driver passed us, “Good. I’d rather have him up ahead where I can keep an eye on him.” He’d also hope that when the inevitable accident happened, they wouldn’t take some innocent family with them. Dad never had an accident in all his years of driving. I wish I could say the same, that we could all say the same.
It seemed nearly every year I taught at the high school we would lose a student to reckless driving, new drivers showing off new skills in new cars. Our activities director recommended old, slow, sturdy cars for new drivers. I shared with students that my dad had told my brothers he’d put a governor on their cars if he heard of them speeding, then wondered if that could still be done with newer cars. “Oh yes it can,” said one young man, but didn’t share how he knew.
I remember family picnics at the Saint Louis Zoo, which has no admission charge, so everyone can afford to go. Dad used to encourage us to have fun rolling down a grassy hill, a fun memory. When I mentioned it to Mom she told me that it helped us burn off energy while she and Dad got a little rest on a bench. Parents have to be clever.
I don’t know if picnics are allowed inside the zoo now, but Forest Park has many open spots for gathering nearby, including the site of the outdoor Shakespeare Festival St. Louis.
** Also remembering the sweet southern wife of the Prudential manager in Minneapolis, who explained how her fastidious husband came to be a willing diaper-changer of their three girls. “I told him that I didn’t like diapers either, but I loved my daughter and wanted her to be healthy and comfortable. I said I thought he loved her as much as I did, but if he didn’t, that was fine and I would do it.” ❤
Black-Eyed Susie’s Honey
One bright summer day, two pretty little flowers were standing in a field near the edge of the woods. The flowers were Black-Eyed Susies, members of the daisy family. They have a dark brown or black center with a single row of yellow petals around them.
One of the daisies said, “Isn’t this a lovely day, so clear and bright? Look at the beautiful blue sky and the pretty white clouds. It’s like a big ocean with lots of sail boats. Oh, it’s so big and beautiful!”
“It’s nothing of the sort,” said the other daisy. “The sun is so hot that it’s about to cook me. I don’t like the blue sky. I don’t like anything that’s blue.”
“Well, well,” said a little Jack-in-the-Pulpit standing nearby, “then you don’t even like yourself, because in a way you are blue except for your head.”
“That’s right,” said the shy little violet. “The green color is made up of yellow and blue; so from your neck down, you are mostly blue.”
“Oh I don’t believe it,” said the second daisy. “Besides, we were talking about the sky. I don’t care for the white clouds. I’ve seen too many white clouds turn black with rage and cry all over. Just yesterday, I got all wet when a little baby cloud got lost from his mother and cried all over the place.”
“Now, now,” said Sweet William. “You’ve sort of mixed things up a bit. If it wasn’t for the crying clouds making rain and the hot sun making it warm, we couldn’t be here.”
“That’s true,” said Morning Glory, climbing a nearby tree. “Everything and everybody is part of a big thing, and we all have our jobs to do and our rewards to receive.”
What is our so-called job?” Asked daisy number two. “I can’t do anything with my roots buried in the ground and my head cooking in the sun.”
“Oh yes you can do something,” said the first daisy. “You can look pretty for everyone to see, and you can make honey for the bees.”
“I’ll admit I’m the prettiest flower in the woods and I have the sweetest honey that ever was, but if you think I’ll have a dirty old bee walking on my head, you are badly mistaken. I’ll give no honey to the bees or to anyone else.”
“Oh, that’s too bad,” said Morning Glory, climbing still higher up the tree and opening more blossoms. “I’m climbing as high as I can and wearing dozens of honey-filled flowers for the bees so that my reward will be big.”
“Reward, reward!” shouted the second daisy. “What reward can you hope to receive? You know as well as I do that all summer long, the bees will run all over your head gathering honey, the bugs and worms will eat your leaves, and then old Jack Frost will paint you so Old Man Winter can freeze you.”
“That’s partly true,” answered Jack-in-the-Pulpit. “Some of us will die, but as a reward for giving honey to the bees, we will be given the chance to make seeds which will grow next year.”
“Oh!” cried the second little daisy. “How foolish can you be! I suppose the bugs and worms we’ve been feeding all summer will wade around in the snow, planting the seeds we leave for next year.”
“No,” answered the Morning Glory, “the birds will eat most of them. You see, the birds must live, too, and they live on bugs, worms, and seeds, mostly.”
“Oho,” moaned the second little daisy, “so now we have to feed our hard-earned seeds to the birds. After they get finished, what reward do we have left?”
“Now wait up a minute,” answered the first little daisy. “The birds don’t eat all the seed. Most of the seed is dropped on the ground. When the birds scratch around looking for them, they bury many more than they eat.”
“That’s right, they do us far more good than harm,” wisely stated Jack-in-the-Pulpit.
“I care not what you say, do, or think. I’ll not give any of my honey to the bees,” angrily shouted the second little daisy. “Look, here comes one now.” With that, she quickly closed her petals, keeping the bee away.
The bee flew to the first little daisy and took some honey, saying, “Thank you. I’ll be back tomorrow.”
“What about us?” asked the other flowers.
“I only take honey from Black-Eyed Susies. There will soon be other bees along for your honey. Bye now,” said the bee, and away he flew.
The second little daisy refused all day long to give honey to any of the many bees that came her way. Just about sundown, a little boy came along. Seeing the two daisies, he reached down and picked the second little daisy. Walking along, he pulled the petals off one by one, saying, “She loves me, she loves me not, she loves me, she loves me not . . .”