While many of you are enjoying snow or cursing ice today, I am watching the rain fall and contemplating stone. The loud silence of fresh fallen snow is one of my favorite sounds, the ghostly shroud it gives the landscape one of my favorite sights. Of course, by the second day, the charm has turned gray at the edges and the silence broken by the grinding of salt trucks and plows. I'm south again, so rain and ice is more common than snow. The kids and I took advantage of the warmer air and hiked the trails left behind by the developer's bulldozers.
The stone you see in the stairway is what my yard looks like under the sod. This is my bit of mountain, pretty isn't she? After a long walk by the train tracks, over steep hills, under towering naked elms, and around the lake, we were tired and ready to go home. My daughter came to the stairs first. She didn't hesitate, stomped up each one, reaching the top quickly; confident to be the winner as usual. She tapped her foot impatiently waiting for my son and I.
He hesitated, stared up at the top, assessing the uneven terrain, the distance, the possible perils. He let go of my hand and went up on his own slowly, one step at a time, each footstep precisely landed. He reached the top grinning and proud, happy to arrive despite the challenge.
I watched them go up, dawdled and awed over the many colors in the first step. Oh, and look at the striations in this one, or the moss on the edges of the next. Wait, is that a cardinal chirping above? Where is he? Ok, what step am I about to fall off of looking into the sky. Hmm, I wonder what kind of stone this is, how old this piece, who put these here? What was I doing...oh, yes, climbing to the top. I'll get there, I just want to check out the view from this one for a bit. And look at the crunchy leaves on the wet soil, how delightfully they contrast. Let me get another picture. Hold on.
Now I am up top and my daughter is laying on the sidewalk tortured by the hours she has had to wait on me. My son is standing over her laughing that she will have a dirty bum when she gets up and I am still dreaming about each wondrous thing I just saw. Three very different ways of making the same journey. Is one better than the other? Of course we each think our way is the best. The important lesson lies in the compassion we have for others, allowing each to go their own way, eventually arriving at the same point together. Compassion is the most important step; you cannot reach the top with out it.