By Julie Gagnon Prior
Do you remember as a kid; overhearing the adults reminiscing over how much the world has changed in their lifetime?
Sometimes I would take a seat on the floor and listen intently to the conversations, especially when my Grampa talked. Grampa’s stories involved such detail and colorful description that his words played out like a movie in my head.
I remember being awestruck over the vastness of change within his lifetime. But at the same time, I was confused and conflicted because I couldn’t fathom that much change within my own lifetime.
But now, at 50 years old and with my own grandson’s arrival; I realize that the stories that I have to tell may have the same effect on him.
After reflecting on the changes between my childhood and the childhood that kids experience now-a-days, I have made a game plan. I like to think of it as my “Grandkid Bucket List”.
The lifestyle of children in this day and age is so very different from only a few decades ago. I can’t help but smile to myself as I fill out the list with some of the very simple yet memorable childhood experiences and lessons that I want to pass on.
Overall, the “Grandkid Bucket List” I am creating revolves around experiencing nature and respecting and appreciating people.
Now my grandson is only a little over a month year old, so I have some time to expand or edit the goals. But I thought that I would share with you some of my initial thoughts.
1. Catching Crawdads. Ahhh, a stream or river with a shallow edge and small rocks is perfect. The soothing sound of the rushing water needs to drown out any other sounds of civilization. We’ll find the right size rocks for those little hands and pick them up carefully so as not to stir up the mud (making the water cloudy). We will discuss that crawdads swim backwards and the place to grab them is behind their pinchers. Of course, we will never hurt them and will always put them back to go back to hiding under their rocks.
2. Climbing Birch Trees. A skill my brother Bob taught me; it’s guaranteed to amaze. We will find the proper diameter and height tree for each of our own height and weight. Of course, I will have to help them climb their tree the first few times. But I imagine it won’t take long for them to learn to do it on their own. We will take turns climbing a tree, up, up, up, until it begins to slowly begin to bend. Then, inching up higher and higher until the sweet spot is reached. It is then that the precious, caring birch will slowly and softly bend over; bringing its passenger back to the ground with grace and ease. Once released from the hands of the traveler, the tree springs back to it’s original pose, reaching for the sun.
3. Touch-Me-Knots (Jewelweed). Popping touch-me-not pods is quite possibly one of the most relaxing yet addictive late summer past times. The bigger the pod, the bigger the explosion. Sometimes the challenge is to pick as many pods as you can and put them in a hand…without them exploding upon touch. Many people aren’t aware of this phenomenon and it’s a fun one to share. The joy and amusement on a child’s face as they share a pod with another (who hasn’t had the experience), as the pod explodes and startles the newbie is priceless.
4. Puffball Stomping. This can be a bit of a trickier experience as the puffballs need to be located and they need to be at the proper stage of ripeness. The experience is even more enjoyable when done while barefoot. Stomping on a ripe puffball barefoot is nothing short of awesome while witnessing the black smoke escape out from under one’s feet and thru their toes. One of Mother Nature’s own magic shows.
5. Wild Berry Picking……. Will Not be on the list… Big, ugly, scary spiders like to hide amongst berry bushes and this is unacceptable.
6. Summer Night Outdoor Lights. Education at its finest. On a hot summer night, after leaving the outdoor light on, we will step outside to witness a magnificent variety show of all shapes, sizes, and colors of insects. A stunning spectacle of characters gathered together almost in worship of the light. We’ll be starstruck observing characters that we’d never witness during the day. At this point I feel that I need to clarify something. Despite collecting June bugs on nights like this (when I was young) and convincing my younger brothers that it feels good to have them crawl around on their tongue…. I won’t do that to my grandkids.
7. Christmas Cookies. The more variety the better. We will work together to create colorful, magical treats; all while listening to the Christmas music recordings created by my Dad playing guitar(s). Then, after creating packages of the mix, we will travel to unexpecting, kind, friendly people and present them with the gift of love and appreciation.
8. Easter Bunny Cakes. Another opportunity for “giving”. I’ll make the cakes ahead of time, cut them and arrange them in the shape of an Easter Bunny head, and cover with frosting. We will have a variety of candies such as licorice, gum drops, food colored coconut, colored marshmallows, and more. Each person will decorate their own individual cake and then choose who they will give it to. Of course, we will have one for ourselves as well. But the grandkid(s) will be encouraged to take a moment to think about who might be most appreciative of such a gift. I used to do this with my own kids and we would often bring a couple cakes to the halfway house in Waterbury (people who were once in the State Hospital).
This is just a sampling of the “Grandkid Bucket List”, so many more ideas and goals are swarming thru my head.
Truly, I am going to treasure every chance I have to share stories and experiences from my lifetime with these children. And at the same time, I am going to treasure being part of the stories and experiences that they will someday share with their grandchildren……
Julie Gagnon Prior
Julie Gagnon Prior resides in Grand Isle with her partner Carl and their 5 dogs. Prior has been battling Lyme Disease for several years, which she