In the mind of a young child, a rock can sprout a sturdy oak tree. The rain holds magical powers and the wind sings the birds’ requested rhythms. Spring is endlessly beautiful to all of us, but to a child, mud is simply a masterpiece awaiting its form. Within this world of rocks, trees, wildflowers, lakes, and animals, my daughter finds her gift. Her imagination blooms quickly while empathy and kindness chase ahead. Her mind is in control of endless possibilities and her spirit in connection with the world.
To me, as her mother, this is goodness. The goodness of being grounded in the moment while your thoughts run free. The goodness of being carefree while still kind and caring. The goodness of respecting Mother Nature while feeling you are an important part of something bigger.
After school one day, my daughter hummed quietly to a rock in her hand. Her story unfolded to a tragic end of a tiny oak tree she previously nurtured during recess. Songs were sung to help it grow. Bullies were chased away when they threatened to yank it. That acorn kept trying. It conquered the playground wood chips and found the sunshine. And its protector, my daughter, visited it every afternoon. Unfortunately, its sudden disappearance, probably by the hand of the school’s landscaper, did not go unnoticed.
“Well, someone pulled the baby tree out of the ground. The roots are still in there, though, so I wished it would grow back and watered it with my tears. Then I found this seedling, so I brought it inside and I didn’t get in trouble. Mrs. Goodwin said I could keep it just this one time, but I can’t bring in stones anymore or everyone will want to bring in stones. And I didn’t know that, so I’ll never do that again. Ever. So I didn’t get in trouble. But I did cry for nature.”
She returned to humming, holding her rock seedling, and looking at the sky. Her tears already gifted as water. Her song upbeat and hopeful noise. She solved her sadness with the magic of Mother Nature.
Nature continually offers endless platforms for imaginative play. The clovers filling in the yard between the wild onions are clouds. Their deep patches are as soft as pillows. The tiny lizard captured for an afternoon sits in conversation while sharing bites of grape. He even knew how to take pictures because he is taking one right now! In this moment! So he will never forget her kindness of rescuing him from the neighborhood cat and sharing her feast.
The appearance of tiny wildflowers amid her fairy garden are precisely placed by each tiny fairy hand. Their reward for sharing this beauty with her is a new book, fashioned out of tiny scraps of paper, a lot of tape, and misplaced, backwards number threes.
My mother calls it “Big Picture Time.” That necessary daily allowance of seeing the endless sky or feeling the warm sun on your cheeks. Feeling the goodness of our world and remembering how it is all bigger than us. The time and space our spirits need to grow.
Our favorite Big Picture scene is not a hard one to find, ten minutes from our house at Red Top Mountain State Park, and in the backyard of my parent’s house: lake sparkles. The moments when the sun is shining at the perfect angle to illuminate each wave in the water. Dancing light under the ducks’ bellies. The back drop of pixie dust thrown from my daughter’s imagination to light up the roofs of the fish houses.
In the illumination of lake sparkles and the chilled water on her bare toes, my daughter often falls silent. Her mind tirelessly working on imaginings and prayers. Her songs often directed to the birds, returning their kind gifts, but the words often directed to angels. Her spirit taking the time to soak it all in. Her heart being a part of what she can see and the goodness she can feel. In nature, her imagination grows solutions, solves her worries, and connects her to the big picture, even the one above.
Her rock seedling sits buried in our backyard. Maybe someday, with enough song and goodness, I tell her. The innocent hope and love she carries is so contagious that, yes, I too can see the sprout starting to grow through the mud.
About the Author
In 2009, Jessica Wilson received her Master of Arts in Professional Writing at Kennesaw State University. She was awarded the Robert Hill Award for Graduate Writing from Kennesaw State University in 2009. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of South Carolina Upstate and also attended Furman University as an undergraduate.
She is the Administrator for Georgia Writers Association, which is housed in the English Department at Kennesaw State University. She is currently working on revisions of her first novel when not listening to the great imaginings of her young daughter or the endless barking of her rescue dog.