WHAT IN THE WILD?
For the first few days of my visit, I had Sam’s two boys to myself. Daily, I invited Silas (4) and Tate (3) to my bedroom where my smaller traveling bag held surprises in two outside pockets, one larger than the other.
“Tate gets to unzip the big zipper,” I instructed. “Then Silas can open the other one.”
Tate got a different book each day. We would sit on the couch for me to read, then it was Silas’ turn.
The first morning, he pulled out a kaleidoscope I had purchased at Copper Creek in Joseph. He loved it! Silas is my “imagination boy,” and after each turn, he handed it to me.
After the next day’s book reading, Silas retrieved two pussy willow stems. “What is this?” he asked.
“Pussy willows. They grow in the wild.”
“What’s the wild?”
I froze at a loss for words. My mouth felt too small to describe where I live- the vastness, the beauty, the rawness of it all.
His blue eyes patiently waited for me to answer.
“The wild is where there are mountains and rivers and forests and the sky is big. Animals live where there are no people.”
He stroked the soft buds. “I want to put these in a vase.”
Tate trailed behind us to the kitchen. He’d been guarded with me, not knowing me as well as Silas.
Their mother told me where to find a small vase. It was more of a small glass bowl which did not allow the sticks to stand upright.
“Let’s go outside and find a rock to hold them up,” I decided.
We went outside and could not find one single rock, not a piece of gravel anywhere in the well-manicured lawn and cul-de-sac. I was dumbfounded. I’m from Wallowa County where there is nothing but rocks of all sizes. It was beyond my comprehension.
“How do you raise boys without rocks?” I wondered.
Back in the house, I requested a toy car.
Silas came back with a race car. I dropped it in the vase, and arranged the stems just right.
Seeing this success, Tate instantly wrapped both arms around my leg and hugged me.
GranKK had scored.
The next day an ocean green rock from one of my hikes was the surprise, and all was right with the world.
Boys need rocks. Wild ones.
Originally published May 4, 2016 in the La Grande Observer newspaper. Reprinted with permission.