Spirit Grooves Blogs

Published on March 15, 2014

Today we were out in the woods with the dogs. The snowpack is shrinking and, if I am careful, I don't sink below the tops of my books. Margaret and I are making a loop through the forest, perhaps a quarter of a mile in length, perhaps a little longer. We go around again and again until we have had enough. We call the place "Up Top," because it is one of the highest places around, Michigan mostly having been scraped flat by a glacier many centuries ago. We say "Want to go Up-Top?" We have just completed a second lap and climbed up a fairly steep hill to where our car is parked.

To my surprise, another car is parked right behind ours. It is our daughter Anne's, which means she and my granddaughter Emma must be somewhere out in the loop, since I can't see anyone. One of the dogs, Lukah (a pie-eyed husky – one blue, one brown eye) picks up the scent of the girls and is gone in a flash, streaking down the slippery water-covered ice toward where they must have gone.

And sure enough, round a bend, there they all are, our two dogs, daughter Anne, and granddaughter Emma. Emma is waving us at from the distance. This morning, when she came in, the first things she said to me was "Grandpa, you got any news?" I have to laugh, because this is what I always ask people. Here she was out in the snow happy to see me.

Soon we are all walking together, little Emma between grandma and grandpa, each of us holding one of her little hands, and helping her negotiate the sometimes too-deep-for-Emma snow. When we come to the big downward hill, where it would be easy to fall in the melting ice and snow, we have to go down by alternately sinking each heel in the deep snow, and creating like an icy staircase down the hill. Emma thoroughly enjoyed that.

Up the long and winding hill after reaching the bottom took more time. There we were, grandpa, grandma, daughter, and granddaughter (and two dogs) in the full sun, with the temperature hovering around 50 degrees. But there was a sometimes-wind that made it a lot cooler. And I thought to myself:

I don't remember doing something like this with my own four kids, but I know I must have. Anyway, they assure me I did. Grandkids are such a way to revisit the past, even without a déjà vu memory. All this lip service about completing the circle of life, coming around the generation bend, these old chestnuts that I had mostly ignored up to now, began to come to life out on that hill, in the warm sun, with that tiny hand hanging on to mine.

Earlier that morning Emma and I were sitting in my office, with her on my knee, listening to a new song from my son-in-law (Emma's Uncle) Seth Bernard called "We Can Change Our Own Mind." This song is in a new style of music for Seth and May, part of a collaboration between Seth, my daughter May, and our friend Tyler Duncan. That song came to mind as I trudged through the snow as I realized that I was changing my own mind or put in another way: my mind was changing right before my eyes.

Later that night, before Emma went to bed, she is telling me the story of going out in the woods with me, telling me we both had our coats on and how fast the dogs were running. Wordsworth's line rang through my head, "The child is father to the man." The child is also father to the grandpa.

[Photo of me coming back from an winter's photo shot. Not sure who took this.]