Wednesday, May 31, 2017

More Summer Memories

Mr. Judson Shea was short on words but long on wisdom and teaching all those little things one might ordinarily miss. He liked to grow things; vegetables, flowers, trees, children. I remember him plucking a flower from a bush at the side of his house. He held the bloom one way and showed me a Bleeding Heart. He turned it upside down, gently pulled at the petals with his overworked fingers, and made Dutchman’s breeches dance in my outstretched hand. Before dinner one night he called me to watch as he cut up broccoli. He chopped off the “trunk” of the tree and said, “Most people throw this part away but here’s what you do,” and proceeded to peel the woody bark and expose the tender middle. “This is the best part!” he assured me and I’ve enjoyed my favorite heart of broccoli trees every since.
  The summer I was six our two families shared a day at Loon Lake. The Sheas had a little row boat and Mr. Shea wanted to take all the kids for a ride. Judilee, David, and young Jud piled into the boat like pros but I balked. I’d never been in a boat. The way it rocked and swayed as the other children settled made my stomach roll. Older Jud held out his weathered hand and in the calmest voice said, “Come on. Nothin’s gonna happen to you.” Tears ran down my face. I shook my head “No” with vigor from my stubborn stance on stable earth. Dad held my hand and urged me toward the end of the dock reminding me how he’d taught me to swim the year before. We must have stood there for twenty minutes with Mr. Shea holding out his steady hand and repeating “Come on now. You can do it. You’ll be fine,” as I envisioned sharks and piranha and sea dragons tearing me limb from limb should I happen to fall in the lake.
  Finally, grounded by the steadiest of unflappable adult voices and hands and conviction, I hopped down into the boat to meet my destiny. The ride wasn’t so bad after all and from that day forward I jumped at every chance to be on a boat; row boats, canoes, kayaks, paddle boats, party boats, motor boats I could ski behind, lobster fishing boats that toured around harbors teeming with wildlife, boats that sailed me out to greet whales and dolphins and more sea birds that I could count. I was hooked on a newfound source of joy and all because Judson Shea (accompanied by my Dad) never lost faith that I could do something, even if it scared me silly, and he gave me the time and space to make the decision on my own.
  I faced many more decisions and choices after that one but more on that another day. Until then breathe in the beauty of this day, your day, and the Earth that supports you! Wishing you well in it!
xo Robin

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