Tag Archives: “cub scouts”

Mermaids live in coral caves

When I woke up this morning, mist was rising from a lake in the distance, and I felt like I was in a fairy tale. I was really in a cub scout campout for my grandson. Exhausted by our adventures, canoeing, pellet gun shooting, archery, swimming, not to mention sleeping badly in a cold tent, I came home to sit in my garden, notice my favorite roses had sent out sunset orange blooms, and read Peter Pan. I picked it up on a whim last week, and after a weekend with my grandson, I am struck by its wisdom and also the beauty of the writing.

My own intrepid Peter Pan had bigger adventures this weekend in his mind than in reality, but where do we exist, except in what we believe to be happening? There is real magic and fearsomeness in J.M. Barrie’s story. Peter spills blood: Hooks’, wolves, bears. Life in Neverland is an adventure, but not a safe adventure. It is as scary as children’s dreams. Fairies says curse words (though we don’t read them) and plot death on little girls who steal Peter’s heart. Pirates really do want to kill the lost children, and battles are epic. Mermaids live in coral caves.

My grandson coaxed, cajoled, argued me into helping carve a pumpkin I did not want to. He took it to a contest and literally talked everyone in his pack into voting for it as best decorated pumpkin. He was one of the winners. He snuck candy and insisted he didn’t need more covers. He was always a little too rambunctious and brash. My nerves frayed.

Den leaders made a fire circle of rope around the campfire this morning. The reason: to keep boys back behind it so they didn’t fall in and burn themselves. Would they? Yes. In a tussle, in curiosity to see a fire closer, in sheer boy. They were drawn to standing or sitting around the fire. J.M. Barrie’s world was alive and well and in each pair of eyes. Barrie wrote that mothers always have one kiss you can’t capture, that the stars watch us, and that the youngest stars cry out warnings only Peter Pans can hear.



Yesterday was a rich day. I didn’t expect it––maybe that’s what makes it so dear. I started with an exercise class with my friend. We kalumped and kareened around trying to follow the more experienced members, then went off to have some of the best coffee in town at a little taqueria. Then I went to lunch with other friends, and we ended talking in that heartfelt and deep way friends will about life and its heartbreaks, its hard, unavoidable places. Then I took my grandson, all of eight, and a new cub scout, a Bear, to a community garden to go over his bobcat trail material. We sat under a full lime tree near a passion vine that had three monarchs going crazy and studied his salute and handshake and pledge. He was earnest and distracted by the butterflies. He assured me that he and Spencer had practiced the handshake at least ten times. He told me I was a good Akela (that’s leader). Then my love picked Julian Schnabel’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly for our Saturday night flick, and the movie moved me so profoundly, the essential story, the acting, and the visuals, that I had to turn the TV off afterwards. I just didn’t want anything, a commerical, a lame show, some talking head who has nothing to say that makes anything any better, to spoil what I had just seen and felt. Based on a true story, the hero in the movie suffers a massive stroke and cannot move or speak, but he can still feel and see and regret and remember. I regret not a moment of yesterday: friendship, morning coffee, profound talk about difficult decisions, my grandson in the garden, witnessing a creative project that expresses in full depth the wistfulness of life, which is what yesterday was in all its glory, wistful and small-ly grand. My eyes closed last night on memories of the green of the garden and the orange of a butterfly wing. As the hero in the movie said, I have my imagination and my memories.