Earth Shaped Notes
I have a heart shaped rock that has the word wisdom written on it.
My niece has one with the word believe.
I found them both next to each other in my car, around the spot where she regularly has me buckle her baby dolls.
Today as I put her down for a nap, she kept interrupting my reading to check on her baby. I’d hear her ask, “what’s wrong, I heard you crying for me?”
She’d listen with her hand kept still over her doll’s chest, waiting quietly.
She’s return and tell me to read really, really quietly so I didn’t wake up her baby.
As I left the room, I watched her move her doll from her window pane to the pillow next to her, and read the parts of a book about Maya Angelou that she’s memorized.
After each page she’d add, “after she wrote her story, she believed she could be anything.”
She noted and emphasized details, each time returning to this conclusion.
As we sat under a tree doing yoga poses, with frequent breaks for filling her watering can, using her shovel, and gathering chalk and sticks, I thought of looking out the window in Montana.
I’ve never been to Idaho, and where my friend lives is right on the border. We decided to make the trek through the bypass.
As we drove I saw two things. Signs for hot springs, and scorched forests across the mountains. Residue from a fire that took out close to 39 houses, and big sections of wildlife.
Evidence of our warming planet, and the displaced lengths of seasons. Longer and longer stretches without rain. Intense storms and lightning hitting tree limbs.
We moved during that thirty minute drive from sunny and close to 60 to hailing and 5 feet of snow, reminding me how expansive the earth is compared to the space we occupy.
Showing me how suddenly climate takes on the characteristics of its changed landscapes.
Pausing me to notice fragile markers of beauty, and slow, slow regrowth.
Today it’s close to 80 degrees and in between clouds the sky is bright blue.
And yet this too is a marker of a changing landscape, more rapid seeming in short bursts than averages one’s.
I stretch out my bare legs under shorts and I study the changes I want to savor and enjoy. Summer coming early, breaking up long winters and piles of snow.
And as I study my memory of my niece tending to her baby I hold the rock with the word belief.
What is our wisdom in disbelieving climate change?
What spot have we stood in too long or too exclusively?
What routines of checking on each other have we gotten out of?
Whether it’s a spoon, or a piece of play dough, or a flashlight shadow, my niece personifies them and extends questions of care. She develops relational connections among things, and she cultivates routines based on herself.
Hearing heart beats.
Making eye contact.
Lowering her voice.
Believing that there are needs to attend to.
Resetting her attention to incorporate someone else’s needs.
She took her stick and endowed in with the sounds of a vacuum.
“Take my hand Aunt Amanda, come stand over here. I need to vacuum that part now.”
Unencumbered, she scans her surroundings and sees clearly the qualities of a home. A place to live. A place in need of our care and attention.
A place she chooses to care for and listen to.
A place she envisions surrounding her always.
I close the door to her room to the sound of her reading, and I leave her hunched over her baby.
Her head is on the window pane, and her hand is right over her baby’s soundless beating heart.