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The Eyes Of A Child

By Tom Poland
web posted June 26, 2015

LIFE DOWN SOUTH – Hanging out with a child who finds astonishment in the simplest things is the fountain of youth. My eight-year-old granddaughter, Mary Beth, an Atlantan, spent a week with me, and what a week we had. From Georgia to South Carolina, we explored the land and its waterways and attractions.In Georgia, my sister, Deb, took us on a lake cruise to Anthony Shoals to see the rocky shoals spider lilies in bloom.

It was a trip back in time to the very site my late mother played at as a girl, bringing a bit of family history full circle. Mary Beth got to guide the boat over the big water. That was a big deal. The next day she spent an afternoon at the pool where she was able to coax her three-year-old cousin, Harper, to jump off the diving board for the first time. Harper and Mary Beth are buddies for life.

Avoiding the interstate, we drove from Lincolnton to Columbia through peach country. I told Mary Beth that even though we are Georgians we must admit that South Carolina really is the peach state. Down near Monetta I stopped and let her see all the peach trees in a huge orchard. I picked one small peach on the verge of spoiling and gave it to her. She was as excited as a man who had just won the lottery. As we drove toward Columbia she kept talking about how sweet a peach smells. “Smells like morning. It’s fuzzy, too” she said.

Wednesday, Harper and her grandparents came over from Georgia to spend a day with us. We went to the State Museum’s Ice Age 4-D movie and then spent the afternoon at Saluda Shoals Splash Pad. The day was a slight blend of Disney World and a water park. A child out of school for the summer becomes a creature of the water. We spent lots of time around water the entire week: Clarks Hill Lake and pools, of course. What kid doesn’t love pools? A lot of fun and learning took place over the next four days and you can bet the sound of splashing water was always close by.
Each morning I took her on a nature walk. She took photos and wrote a short story for her mom back in Atlanta. She wrote one about my mint. “Smells like toothpaste,” she told me. She chewed a small leaf and remarked that it “made her mouth feel fresh.”
She took photos of all the baby ducks at a nearby lake where people create a nuisance by feeding the ducks. She wrote that, “Lots of hungry baby ducks want people to feed them. They get sick and people want them removed. That can mean killing them. So don’t feed the ducks. It’s kinder in the end.”

All week I marveled at how a child sees the world. She picked up roly-polies but shrieked when flying insects came near, thanks to yellowjackets that stung her last fall. I tried to teach her that life means bugs and you have to get used to them. So far, the lesson hasn’t sunk in. Still, we spent a lot of time outdoors. She told her mom that every day with me was an adventure and that’s how life should be for all of us. Sadly, we get a bit jaded as adults do we not?

I spend a lot of time outdoors working on various assignments and as much as I try to see things in new perspectives, I just can’t match a child’s honest way of looking at the world. It’s too bad life takes so much enthusiasm out of us. The next time I head into the field, I’ll look at the world and its wonders and think, “What would Mary Beth notice.” I’ll try to find my eyes as a child. It should step up my game and bring new perspectives to bear on things I cover. Maybe if I inhale the fragrance of mint each morning it will make my mind “feel fresh.”

I’ll always remember the special week Mary Beth (Peanut) and I shared and I look forward to more with her and her brother, Will, “the Big Deal,” as we affectionately call him.

Photo by Tom

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