Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Children's Garden - Ithaca trip Part II

Hello blog! I've missed you!! I've been so swamped with work that I haven't had a chance to revisit my Ithaca trip and by now, I've forgotten half the things I wanted to say. And in the meantime all sorts of other potential posts - zoo trips, colorful craft projects, recipes for toddlers - are falling by the wayside. This makes me a bit sad because one of the driving motivations for the blog was to document Taran's growth for: a) my family, and b) myself. The last is especially important because I have a lousy memory (total spaghetti strainer people) and a complete inability to keep a journal (something about the double whammy of needing to have follow-through AND organizational skills absolutely stymies me).

Tonight I'm putting aside work because I'm feeling a bit disgruntled with it and I need some time for more creative ventures. And I need a few smiles. Which looking at my recent trip certainly provides. So let's see.... in my last post I got through only 1.5 days of our ten day trip. At that rate I would need another 6 posts at least to cover everything. So let me talk about a few highlights from the trip.

Photo Credit: http://www.ithacachildrensgarden.org/

On the second day, we met up with my Dad and step-Mom at the Ithaca Children's Garden and I fell so in love with the place. If my essence could be distilled, and grown into a garden, I think the garden would look like this. It was whimsical (a little straw bale house with a sod roof called "The Troll House"), wild (prairie flowers and wildflowers), creative, rambling, a little slipshod (a "greenhouse" with walls made of 2-liter soda bottles strung up on bamboo poles), and very ecologically minded. Their philosophy is to "connect children with nature in playful ways". This actually resonants very deeply with me and is part of my grand master plan of what I hope to do with myself professionally in the next couple of years (more on that at some future juncture). If I could set up a cot and a camp stove in the Troll House and move in tomorrow I'd be in bliss.

We were all equally as pleased with the sites and Taran ran and laughed and jumped and squealed with absolute delight. He's such a lucky guy to have three different sets of grandparents to love him up and I get a kick out of seeing his unique relationship with each one.

By the side of the road, there were a series of colorful flags blowing in the wind and Taran thought they were the best. Ever. This picture cracks me up because it looks like Taran is in super-speedy motion, running in mid-air with the sign behind him warning to keep at 15 mhp:

I don't know if you noticed, but Taran is wearing his Darth Vader shirt in the above pictures. Which brings me to my favorite part of the morning. Two small boys, slightly older than Taran were playing together when Taran came whizzing towards them on one of his mad capers. Upon seeing his shirt, the older cried out "Aaaaah it's Darth Vader. Ruuuuuuun!". The younger brother quickly chimed in and off they want. Taran had no clue what all the hubbub was about, but he was perfectly willing to join in the fun, so he careened after them squealing and chortling. Which of course made the boys run and yell some more. I regret to say that I have not a single photo of this glee because I was too busy laughing my A*@ off [insert expletive here] to snap a picture.

Another highlight of our trip was seeing Auntie Anna swim across Lake Cayuga for "Women Swimmin'". Anna is an incredibly passionate and powerful woman in every sense of the word and I was so proud of her for this accomplishment and also for participating in such an important community event. This annual swim raises a significant chunk of the budget for the local Hospicare, which provides palliative care for people who are dying. It was pretty awe-inspring to see the waves of women - all shapes, sizes, ages - swimming the 1.2 miles across the cold, deep waters in the early hours of the morning. I was moved to tears by the moxie of the women and the community spirit which brought hundreds of friends, family, and supportive spectators out to cheer the women on as they came in to the final stretch where we waited with warm blankets and even warmer hugs.

Oh man, I feel like I'm probably hitting the limit of people's attention span and I haven't even begun to tell all the stories. Ok. Last one. Monica and Trevor's farm. This was another early morning trip when the fog was still clinging to the hills and the sun was low in the sky. Monica was my roommate my last year of graduate school and I absolutely adore her. She and her husband are raising their toddler son on an organic vegetable farm and in her spare time, when she's not running the CSA for her husband, she's a full-time middle-school teacher of students with disabilities. If I had 1/10 of this woman's energy and initiative I'd be really well off in life. 

The highlights for Taran were definitely the beautiful horses and Hummel the rabbit.

I have to admit, I'm a little (ok, a lot) scared of horses (big bodies, little brains). As it turns out, they are capable of fairly complex problem solving and understanding of social structure so my impressions are erroneous. But no one ever said that fear was rational, right? Anyway, I digress. My point is that while I was hovering a few feet back "Just so I can get some good pictures, you know", Taran was right up in the mix, absolutely fearless. I envy that quality in him. He loved feeding the horses and could have stayed there all day.

The only thing that could tempt him from leaving the horse pen was the prospect of hugging the soft bunny waiting for him inside.

I'll sign off for now and the rest of the memories will have to be sent off to the ethers where all old memories go to die, maybe to be resurrected, a little worse-for-the-wear when I pore back over old photos.

As a parting moment, here I am with Taran waiting for the Women to swim into shore:

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