Ranger and I have had an interesting few days, ever since my grandchildren last visited. Ranger is wary of any small person, especially one that happens to be clinging to me. I am part of Ranger’s herd, and his job is to protect me. So we move very carefully, and never take a risk that an injury will occur. Ranger sometimes has to be put up into the bedroom so the kids can roam the house.
This got us thinking. I know my grandchildren, now ages 2 and 6, and hope I will see them grow up and become fledglings of their own. But that’s all the longevity I can hope for. My generations are longer than most of my classmates, and I’m good with that. I’m relatively old to be a young grandmother. At this rate of reproduction, my grandchildren will have children later in this century. Now consider their grandchildren….. which they may be alive to see, and now we’re into the 6th or 7th generation. I try to imagine their lives, these future people who bear my genes. Three of my grandparents were dead before I was able to walk, and the fourth is a faint memory from my childhood.
Ranger: “Where are you going with this train of thought? Notice that I’m getting used to having your grandkids around, and I even settle down after a while, so don’t give up hope. After all, they aren’t going to be small people for long.”
Me: “I know. What I’m really puzzling through is my responsibility for not just them but also for their grandchildren. We need to talk to Grandmother Oak about this, as I believe she has come insight.”
It’s amazing that in that hallowed grove of oaks we heard her clearly. As we sit beneath her and look at the wild flowers spread out in the clearing, she speaks.
Grandmother Oak: “Let me remind you that I was here seven generations ago, even at your speed of reproduction. Unless a catastrophe strikes I will be here seven generations from now. I will be the tie that binds your generations together, if I am able. It’s really up to you to make sure I get that chance. Will your grandchildren’s grandchildren have me to embrace? Will they have a field of wild flowers to wander through? Or will they be quarantined in a concrete and asphalt jungle? Will there be a barred owl swooping through my branches, or will there be a golf course carved into this park? Will those children hope to see a Florida panther streak through this underbrush, or will panthers only be viewed on Youtube as a now extinct species? Will there be black bears in these parts, or will those children just hear stories of the hunters bagging the last ones back in the 21st Century?”
Me: “I know what I want. I want my grandchildren to experience looking up through the Spanish Moss toward the sky.
But there is more:
What responsibility do I have to that generation of children? These are such sobering thoughts. I will never know them, but owe them so much… after all, without me they would not exist. And I know that it (at least historically) has taken about that long to change attitudes. Let’s say I value education for women…. that value took a long time to get to me, but it gradually came through and was solidified.
But we no long have those long periods of time, either to change our attitudes or our physical surroundings. Witness how quickly the change in attitude about gay marriage came about…. less than one generation! But it is also less than one generation until the glaciers will be gone and thousands of species gone as well.
Darryl tells me I stomp when I walk. I smile. I know when that started. I changed the way I walked so that I would have a better center of gravity holding my grandchildren. Not a bad metaphor for my thinking. I will do everything I can to center my gravity so the world is full of Grandmother Oaks.