pockets of wonder

It’s the season of trees when their leaves, a pallet in shades of green from bright leafy flora to deep woodland, cease their infusion of growth and bleed vibrancy of color seen only in the fall. It’s a time to connect and to explore the wonder of a landscape falling softly to sleep, but not before it brings drama to the last act of the show.

It wasn’t until recent mornings along walks in the woods when a foreshadowing of winter’s stillness loomed in the morning’s chill, and pockets of wonder turned inside out for full display of its contents. A rising sun turned on the canopies of trees and lightened the way to peer through nooks of landscape, to awaken to dawn slicing through tree arms, while leaves loosened their grasp and drifted to landing, infusing nutrient rich nitrogen into the earth.

I attribute my connection to the natural world through childhood memories, driven by innocence and curiosity, where nuggets of wonder are pulled from the depths of dark pockets.

As a young child, after my father dressed for the day, it was customary for him to scoop from his valet tray, centered on his dresser, a leather wallet, a ring of keys, a fancy pen, and a gold chain bracelet. A fistful of coins filling the tray’s valley was his last grab before dropping the fistful of metal into the depths of his right front pants pocket. As he walked out of the bedroom and down the stairs, the coins, bouncing like ping-pong balls from the paddle of his thigh, jingled in a rhythm with each stride. It was a gentle beat in a cadence that was only my father’s. The awakening coins filled my ears with music just as I had once stood on the living room’s red carpet to watch my father keep rhythm with the bopping of his head and tapping of his foot to the Big Bands music that pulsed through the console. From small pockets, I learned about the wonder of sound, and music, and beats.

I thought of Agnes, my grandmother, who would come for a visit to our house on Carlisle, and sit on a plaid wool couch in the den to watch television. With little me at her large, rounded side, she’d watch The Price Is Right, and I’d watch the pocket of her housecoat where she soon and inconspicously produce a pair of hard candies, one for me, and one for herself. She’d free the candy from its wrapped bow tie ends before placing the solid goodness on her tongue, but not before I eagerly peeled the wrapper from the sticky cylinder first. I thought all grandmas to be magicians, making hard candy appear from a secret space, where sweet treats were held inside a pouch only Grandmas could keep.

And then there was my mother. A well-dressed, tidy woman who clutched tissues like handkerchiefs that lay in the pocket of her A-line dresses. Whether to offer a proper place for me to blow through my nose, dab a scraped knee, or push one into the hand of my big brother, Tim, to rid himself of drippy nostrils, she’d pull the white thin, soft paper from the dress’s side slit, then wave it in the air to release it from its folded enclave. My mother, who kept her children just as clean as she, was teaching me to care for myself, which was always one tissue away.

I thought about these childhood memories and how small the pockets of containment they are, a literal mere pouch, yet large in metaphoric meaning. From the rhythm of jostling coins, a taste of sweetness after an unwrapping, and the cleanliness of a tissue, how we can learn a thing or two about ourselves and the wonders of nature from the pockets they keep.