You wouldn't know we are related. We neither look nor act alike. I love soft garments in muted colors. Faith calls to mind Joseph in his coat of many colors. She wears trendy, flowing clothes...each piece a kaliedescope of brightness. The pants on her bottom half do not necessarily have to match the shirt on her top half. We don't sound alike either. I sing bits of Sara Groves or Nicole Nordeman while I work. She sings “I am going outside!” “Can I have some more carrots?” and “I finished my math” in her best operatic alto.
We do not see things from the same angle. “Faith put a coat and shoes on. It’s freezing out here!”
“Look Mama, do fairies live in the little hole in this tree?”
We work side by side in the garden. “Be careful, Mom, you are going to hit that toad with your trowel.”
“Right there, under that flower. I wonder what kind of toad it is? I wonder what kind of flower it is?”
Her wondering makes me wonder. We get out the Frogs, Toads, and Turtles (Take Along Guide) and the National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers. We learn that the toad is an American Toad identifiable by a faint yellow stripe down its back. The flower is Daisy Flea Bane.
“Why is it called Flea Bane?”
These questions open my eyes to the wild flowers lining the road on my walk the next day. “Hey kids, get your shoes on. Let’s go for a wildflower walk.”
A half hour, ten shoes and three trips to the bathroom later, we are ready. We set out carrying one pair of scissors and two plastic glasses.
“Mama, look! Let’s put that one in the vase.”
“Charlie, don’t pull up the flowers! Let Mama do the cutting.” A plant with a blue flower drags on the ground behind him…roots and all.
“Careful! There are ants’ nests all along the road. They like to build their nests right on the edge so watch your step.”
“John, look out. John! John!” Too late. A nest has been slashed open by a scooter tire. Ants work frantically to restore order. We watch mesmerized as the larvae are moved deeper into the nest. We forget that these ants bite. Soldier ants use their powers of persuasion. We move on, toes smarting.
“Claire! Stop screaming! You are nowhere near that nest. They are not going to bite you! Stop!”
A truck approaches from behind. I put a protective arm out. Faith, look out! You are going to walk in front of that truck.”
Eagle Eye Nature Girl’s small hand flies out simultaneously. “ Careful Mama! You are about to step on a turtle!”
I look down. I am about to step on a turtle… a little one, no bigger than a half-dollar. We all hunch down in the middle of the road.
“Charlie, don’t poke him in the eye with that twig!”
“Can we take him home?
“Look at those yellow lines around his eyes and on his head. I wonder what kind of turtle he is?”
“Can we take him home?”
“He might be a painted turtle.”
“Can we take him home?”
Later, research on the Internet indicates that he indeed might be a painted turtle. Painted turtles make comical and entertaining pets. OR, he might be a musk turtle. The nickname for a musk turtle is Stinkpot. As the name implies, Stinkpots are NOT ideal pets. I am glad that we let this little turtle continue his trek across the road. Faith is not.
We return home with our plastic cups full of wildflowers. One specimen of each variety. We lay them out on the table. We consult the wildflower field guide and learn that we have collected Spiderwort, Mouse-ear Hawk Weed, and Lyre Leaf Sage. There are a few species that still remain a mystery to us, as we cannot find their pictures in our guide.
I am glad that Faith and I don’t see eye to eye. Separately, we would miss valuable sights. Faith sees that a glass of milk is about to spill, the fridge door is left open or that she is about to get hit by a truck through my eyes. I see little rocks with sparkles, butterflies sipping nectar, and spiders protecting egg sacs through hers. I think we need each other.