Meandering with Mom
Every time I think my mom is difficult to shop for, I remind myself just what I put her through. Mostly, she has to put up with me asking her a lot of mundane questions like, “How do I check the oil level in my car?” and “What’s ‘FICA’?”
Honestly, I’m not sure how flowers or soaps are supposed to make up for that time in college when I called to ask her how to make a potato for dinner; she wasn’t sure if I meant a baked potato or a mashed potato, so I answered, “Um, I don’t know. A brown one?”
Fortunately, my mom taught me long ago that the best gifts are experiences. Well, also chocolate. But mostly experiences.
As a kid, my mom considered experiences in nature to be of the utmost importance. We’d walk barefoot through the prairie behind our house. We’d upturn rocks and logs to look for pill bugs. She’d teach me to identify the variety of tree species in my neighborhood, though I never could remember the difference between a pine and a spruce.
Her passion was marine biology, but the lack of coral reefs and whales never lessened her love of Lake Michigan. Despite living inland, every summer we would drive several hours to the coast just to spend a day lounging on the hot sand.
“Don’t tell my dermatologist,” she’d say, as we’d float on the waves before swimming to shore to eat burgers peppered with sand.
My mom has taught me many lessons–the least of which being that when an avocado sprouts hair you’ve waited too long to eat it–but the lesson for which I am most thankful is that you don’t need to go very far to have an adventure.
We’re lucky enough to live in a state that has diverse forests and sandy shorelines and parks with sunny lawns and brilliant flowers. Granted, I love my Netflix, but when you get to the point where it asks you if you’re still alive because you’ve been watching Stranger Things for eight hours straight, maybe it’s time to get out a bit?
This Sunday, I’ll give my mom her favorite soap and a box of chocolates–which she does not share–but then we’ll go for a walk. I won’t remember giving her the soap; I might remember her inhaling a dozen chocolate-covered cherries, but what I know I will remember is the feeling of meandering through a creaking oak-hickory forest with her. After all, appreciating a nature walk is a lot easier than cooking a potato.