One of the best parts about grandchildren is seeing the world through their lens. Our youngest, a just turned one-year-old, visited recently. While her mom, dad, and gramps were organizing furniture and hunting gear, she and I wandered to the nearby park. Swings and slide held her interest for a while, but she most enjoyed toddling around, spying, and collecting last autumn’s sycamore balls. Due to the dry winter, most of them were still solid. In short time, she’d filled both tiny hands and the crooks of her elbows with tawny treasure. The sparkle in her eyes told me she recognized their magic.
When I asked to carry some of her finds, she firmly shook her head no. She’s not ready to say, “I’ll do it myself,” but that message came through loud and clear. Her agile fingers worked around each globe as she searched for bumps, fibrous strands she could tug, and the stem end. She liked the rough texture and firmness of these pods.
I directed her attention to the weathered remains of an old one and demonstrated how to blow so the wind caught the fluffy parachutes to launch them far from the mother tree. I thought she’d think that was fine fun, but no. Her mind focused firmly on solid orbs, preventing interest in fractured ones.
When she decided she’d like to swing one last time, she neatly stacked her prizes near the swing set and opened her arms so I could lift her into the toddler seat. While she swished through the air and high-fived Gramma as she passed, she kept her eyes on her treasure horde. As soon as she tired of this game, she patiently reloaded her hands and arms with sycamore seeds so we could wander home to show mom and dad what she’d found.
As I carried her back to the house, I noticed how her fingers trailed over each orb. She was as intent as a youngster learning to read braille. If she dropped one, we had to stop and pick it up. We weren’t leaving any behind.
Later that afternoon, my tired adventurer fell sound asleep in gramma’s arms. As she lay so contently, I realized this tiny babe already values what’s important in life. People need nature. Her mom and dad were both outdoor kids who wandered creek banks and fields finding pollywogs and bird nests hidden in the grass. This little one has a great start at creating her heaven on earth using interesting objects she finds on the ground.
She’s right. There’s enchantment in those spheres. Like her, they’re the start of something miraculous. Once one of those tiny seeds takes root, it’ll thrive in the park and shade visiting toddlers who wander below its branches finding fallen sycamore balls. Who knows, maybe our grand’s grand will spend a happy hour decades from now under the offspring of trees she and I enjoyed. Now, that’s magic.