Sunday, December 11, 2011


Escondido, CA
On the night before the moon was fullest,  I took a long walk with Dudley the little brown dog in the hour before midnight.  The streetlights were out on one street.  There, we saw our shadows from the light of the nearly full moon, elongating our short legs (Dudley and I are both vertically challenged) and slimming our bodies.  Perhaps more impressive were the spindly prints of the newly naked trees, along the sidewalk, embracing us as we walked through them.  A fox crossed the road ahead, startling the dog and sending his back hairs straight up.
Escondido, CA
It was a peaceful walk.  We encountered no one.  I had a feeling that something was about to happen. 
Homosassa Springs, FL
Next morning, I heard that a dear family friend passed in the early morning of that same moon, as the shadows grew longer.   Ed was  of my parents' generation, bedridden for some time.
Blue heron near Great Falls, MD
He would have liked those moonshadows on his last night.  A scientist and a minister, he was a teacher, a friend, and a lover of all things in nature.  He personified love and grace through his tender care of living things and his ability to invoke humor at the perfect time in a conversation or awkward moment.  Under a rock or in the murkiest of waters, he found living treasures.  Under his guidance, plants bloomed and flourished.  
Frog-catching nieces, Greeneville, Tennessee
Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Washington, DC
He was my friend when I was a really dorky middle schooler.  I got to accompany him on some of his expeditions to find plants and creatures in lakes and ponds.  He taught me a greater appreciation for living things, and for the thrill of discoveries in nature.   Skinks and worms, beetles and spiders, minnows and tadpoles - they were all part of the nature safari.
San Diego, CA
Fresh water jellyfish, Fleming County, KY
Ed encouraged my love of the pond, and I shared photos with him when I finally had one in my own garden.  I think he liked that.  He bought me a beautiful pair of angel fish for my aquarium when I was about 12.  I was heartbroken when my heater malfunctioned and I poached them - worse than the murders was having to tell him.  He understood but recommended I stick to less fragile aquarium beauties after that.
US National Arboretum Orchid Show
US National Arboretum Orchid Show
Ed conducted the memorial service for my Dad.  He told stories about their adventures; they too were good friends and fellow nature lovers.   He shed a few tears at that service.  I like it that I shared him with my Dad.

Potomac River near Great Falls
Lessons I learned from Ed:
  • Creepy crawly things are cool.
  • You never know what you might find under a rock.
  • Beauty comes in some surprising packages.
  • A day by the water is a gift from God.
  • Life is both fragile and magical.
  • The mentoring of a grownup can change a child's life in countless ways.
  • God watches over all of his creatures and we must be good stewards, too.
Hummingbird in Escondido, CA
On the night of the full moon, Ed was in heaven.  He and Dad probably explored the gardens together.
Falls Church, VA
I don't know if Ed was a Cat Stevens fan, but this song makes me think of those days when we explored ponds and of the moonlight walk I took on the night he went to heaven.
Cat Stevens singing Moonshadow (youtube)
Washington's Birthplace, VA