Monday, August 17, 2009

Chicory, Corn and Cicadas

Mark and I went to Florida for a convention for work last week.

Orlando, in the middle of International Drive.

Fancy hotels, fine restaurants, and days of training interspersed with some amazing, top-notch speakers: football coach Lou Holtz, and the co-founder of Franklin Covey, Hyrum Smith.

Emily Bear played the piano for us.
Pause: please check out Emily Bear. She’s, um, seven:
We slept in soft beds, with lots and lots of air conditioning.
There was all the delicious food you could want to eat.
Nice people from all over the world to talk to.

I was aching to go home by the third day.

Now, our guys are not in as lovely a situation as that was. Nothing even close to that nice!

And they’re guys.

So they are not going to come out and say that word “homesick”.

Which means, to keep them from feelng that way, they need to work and work. And joke around. And sleep.

And we need to make sure that we send letters, letters, letters. Pictures.

Don’t send worries. Keep your humor strong. Support them with a great attitude.

Now, some thoughts for today:

Where ever you live, that’s home.

If you grew up on a farm in Arkansas, that’s the most beautiful place in the world to you. If you grew up in San Diego, or a suburb of Rapid City, or in rural Maine, or Florida, or whatever state…that’s home.

I might get tired in three days of your gators and your summer humidity and your palm trees, but to you, that’s home. And beautiful.

I might not like your curved development streets, one leading to another, but to you, that’s the road on which you rode your bike.

I might not appreciate your dry Arizona desert, or your treeless Montana hills, but to you, they are the loveliest sights in the world.

And that’s what you’d miss. So wherever your Marine is from, that’s what he’s missing seeing.

I’m going to write about our home, so you can see it a little bit. Maybe Zach can too, from this.

It’s the middle of August, and in the middle of the middle of Maryland, that means three things:


The corn is high, really it is, climbing clear up to the sky. The rains have been good this year, so it’s not curled and dusty blue-gray; it’s spiky and rich full green…and the tassels have come out.

When you drive past a field full of corn on a hot summer night, with the car windows open, you can smell it. There is no smell like that of green corn flowering. It smells rich, sweet; full of promise: the crop will come in.

On the sides of the roads that meander this part of Maryland, when the corn blooms, the chicory does as well. It only blooms in the morning. Hundreds of soft blue flowers open in the early misty morning and become a haze of soft cool blue as you drive along the road.

They are beautiful.

They are wild.

You can’t cut them for a bouquet; they will immediately droop.

As the heat of the day builds, they close up. That’s it for the day; you only get the morning. They are the more beautiful because of it.

They are my favorite flowers.

The cool sweet heavenly blue of chicory, and the sweet rich smell of corn in tassel…it means summer to us.

That takes care of sight and smell…what about sound?

Sound would be the raucous chirring of cicadas.

Zach loves them.

When he and his brothers were little, we had one of the seventeen-year cicada cycles. I let them catch dozens, and bring them inside the house to fly around. As they got older, he became expert at hearing one start it’s chirp-chirp-chirrrrrrrrrpppppppp in a tree, and locating it from the sound, and tossing a big stick high, high up at the branch to knock the cicada off, and catching it as it fell.

Yeah, he did.

I loved watching him do it. It was a kid in love with nature.

Who had amazing aim with a stick.

That’s it. Nothing big deal or special today. Just listening to the cicadas singing in the trees tonight, and smelling the corn floating on the night air, and thinking of him.

Wherever you are, send some summer love - describe in the littlest detail whatever is special this time of year - to your folks on deployment. It'll be a gift across time and space to them.

Every little word you take the time to write carries love, and makes a day there better for them.

Stay safe, loved ones.

Thanks for checking in,

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