Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Lunch with Teddy

For the past three and a half years, Mike and Clay, and now Drew, have had lunch with Great Papa about once a week. Recently, their day of choice was Tuesdays. Those days are gone, now that Papa has joined the exodus south, along with the rest of my aunt’s family.

So on this Tuesday, Mike was looking for a diversion. And since it was a beautiful day, he and the boys picked me up at work, and we drove to Roosevelt Island for a quick picnic. Being right on the Potomac, and so close to the airport, we couldn’t completely escape the hustle and bustle, but we still came pretty close.

Once you cross that footbridge and enter the woods, practically all unnatural sounds fade away, and you’re left with a dappled shade-filled serenity that ole’ Teddy would have appreciated.

After a lunch of sandwiches and apples, which even Drew enjoyed, we took a quick spin around the memorial.

Trying our best to ignore the large group of boys who were traipsing through a drained reflecting pool, and causing the park ranger much consternation, we meandered past the inspiring memorial tablets, and I found myself marveling at how appropriate the one titled ‘Youth’ was for me with my little men today.


I want to see you game, boys, I want to see you brave and manly, and I also want to see you gentle and tender.

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars, but remember to keep your feet on the ground.

Courage, hard work, self-mastery, and intelligent effort are all essential to successful life.

Alike for the nation and the individual, the one indispensable requisite is character.

At that moment, we spied a woodpecker high in the tree, and as if that weren’t enough of a blessing, another joined her. This was a male, with a vibrant red plume. We couldn’t believe our good fortune. And just as Mike grabbed the camera to snap a picture, the large group of boys came up right behind us. Equally enamored with the sight, I chuckled over the chorus of ‘Cools’ and ‘Wows’. But then, I noticed the male woodpecker sidling up awfully close to the female. I knew what was about to come next. This is nature, after all.

‘Look! They’re mating!’ screamed one of the boys behind us. A slightly embarrassed chaperone smiled apologetically at me.

‘What’s mating?’ asked Clay.

Trying to quickly come up with an honest, but age appropriate answer, I grasped for words. Finally, I decided that this was a teachable moment I just couldn’t rise to.

‘Um, it’s… hey! Did you see that?’ I vaguely wave in the direction of a tree, while steering him further along the path.

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