Lessons from the teachers at the side of the highway

This weekend we took a trip to my husband’s family’s summer house. On the long trip there and back, we were saluted by beautiful lupines, a dramatic wildflower often found on the roadside in these parts.lupines

As the miles passed, the car seemed to shrink claustriphobically and the GPS estimated our journey home to be increasing rather than decreasing. The dog decided just then to begin wailing at the injustice of it all, my son nervously laughed at the dog’s distressing barks, and my daughter crying at my son’s laughter. Eventually we pulled over so we could all get some air on the side of the road. We reached sensory saturation and were all really stressed. Crispy is how I often describe that feeling. Of being made so brittle by the trigger of stress that one small touch and you’d shatter into a million pieces.

My daughter returned with a handful of lupines and gave them to me as a generous gift. In a moment I was transported back to my wedding day, when the lupines that my mother and grandmother picked graced the tables in the little village hall. It was a welcome liberation from the moment.

I can’t say the rest of the ride was any better though. The dog slept a bit but picked up his howling for the last 20 minutes of the ride. It felt like an eternity and the crispiness was right there with us again. The lupines flopped sadly and I put them in a small vase at the kitchen sink last night with little hope for their recovery, but too grateful to toss them in the compost.

This morning they were at alert once more. I thanked my daughter at breakfast. “Just for you, mom, right from the side of the highway.” She is getting ironic now that she is 10.

Speaking of lupines: Nancy Jay Crumbine, poet and minister who I had the pleasure of hearing preach just once but whose words have stayed with me in the form of her book I purchased from her in the church lobby after her guest sermon has also got a thing for lupines. Or more accurately, they have moved her spirit just as they did mine.

“The lupines have returned,” she writes. “How can we go about our business as if nothing extraordinary has happened? And yet, to really take it in, how can we proceed?… I am daring that many of us have such moments, not wanting to love one more thing, not being able to bear the thought of so much life so freely given, the colors too bright, the bird songs too dear, the debt for being alive too great, the dread of dying too alive.”

“Every June I ask the lupine to teach me, once again, how simply to stand still, bearing witness, being grateful, moving only as the wind suggests,” Nancy writes. Yes, please teach me.

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About Cristin L.

Earthling, pilgrim, peace warrior and special needs parent
This entry was posted in special needs parenting and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Lessons from the teachers at the side of the highway

  1. I just saw a small field of lupines on my way out to Natick this past Saturday. I think they were lupines. They looked just like your picture. I was driving with my 20 year old and I noticed them… bright, bold and striking against the green below them. I muttered “How beautiful”. He looked and agreed. I told him they were technically weeds. He wanted to know who decide that! I also told him how my mother traveled with cutting sheers and newspapers in the trunk of car. She would spot something on the side of the highways, byways, or roads and tell my father to stop. He would and she would venture out and cut her finds and wrap them in newspaper.

    Like Nancy Jay Crumbine wrote, my mother could not “…go about our business as if nothing extraordinary has happened….” She knew something extraordinary. That we have to be ready for the inevitable, beautiful lupines. (Even though someone deemed them weeds!) So ready in fact, that you travel with cutting sheers and newspaper.

    I pride myself on being ready for a plethora of possibilities when traveling with my daughter Ashley. I have everything she needs, may need and back-ups for the back-ups. But I haven’t been traveling with my “cutting sheers and newspaper” lately. In anticipation of the inevitable, beautiful-anything. Thank you so much for this post. I am reminded to pack my sheers and newspaper once again. One of a thousand great life lessons taught to me by mother, and brought to mind by your post. How the heck do keep doing that for me!!!
    Love you and this post. XOXO

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