Habitats and Hope, Happy Birthdays and Hanging On

This past Friday the littles and I went to Go Fish Education Center down in Perry.  This is a beautiful facility that is run by DNR.  The exhibits are interactive, and they have different areas set up like the waters of the different parts of Georgia, from the mountain streams up north to the swamps down south.  You can even borrow a fishing pole and sit out by the pond and try your luck at fishing.  It’s mostly a catch and release program, but in certain months (like October) you can take home what you catch.

They have started holding classes for homeschool students once a month.  We decided to try it last month and we were hooked (ha, no pun intended–seriously, just caught it in editing).  So this past Friday was our second class with Miss Clare, the Center Educator.  She taught about Habitats.  To begin with each child took a card with an animal on it.  Miss Clare asked each one to stick them on the map of Georgia in the habitat they thought best suited their animal.

Cooter drew a shark in the Habitat game.  He grinned really big and gave me a thumbs up.  He knew where to put this one.
Cooter drew a shark in the Habitat game. He grinned really big and gave me a thumbs up. He knew where to put this one.

The thing that we learned was some animals are adaptable and can live in different type habitats–like foxes, raccoons, and even some snakes.

Our state with the animals in their habitats.
Our state with the animals in their habitats.

After that the children played a game which demonstrated how limited resources (food, water, shelter) can affect the population and length of life of the animals.  In the game, after the first couple of “years” the population dwindled–too many deer and not enough of what they needed to live.  The children were running back and forth finding what they needed (or not as the case may be), laughing and enjoying the cool morning.  In the midst of the fun, the sobering reality hit me head on.

They played another game of hide and seek, with each person attempting to be a rabbit camouflaged so the fox couldn’t find him or her.  They really enjoyed that one.  Then we moved inside the facility to discuss the fish and other aquatic life in their habitats.

This is a school of goldfish.  They are in the gator habitat.  Only the gators won't eat them, so trout were put in to get the goldfish population under control.  Only they travel in "schools" so they look like one big fish, thus confusing the trout and saving their lives.  What do the gators eat?  Mice.  Apparently they get their calcium (bones), fiber (hair), and protein and vitamins (meat) all in one delicacy.  Oh if only it were that easy around here!
This is a school of goldfish. They are in the gator habitat. Only the gators won’t eat them, so trout were put in to get the goldfish population under control. Only they travel in “schools” so they look like one big fish, thus confusing the trout and saving their lives. What do the gators eat? Mice. Apparently they get their calcium (bones), fiber (hair), and protein and vitamins (meat) all in one delicacy. Oh if only it were that easy around here!

I learned the most in the gator exhibit.  That whole traveling as a school saving the lives of the goldfish.  Isn’t that amazing?  They feed the gators mice, which is an all dietary needs met kind of meal for that crew.  I wish I could find something comparable to serve here.

It was a wonderful morning of learning, laughter, and play.  As we left I saw these beautiful flowers.  It struck me how with all around them drying up and withering away, they were full of life and beauty–sort of blooming where they were planted kind of thing going on there.

These flowers seemed to crop up out of nothing.  Beautiful, aren't they?
These flowers seemed to crop up out of nothing. Beautiful, aren’t they?

Today Aub was following behind me across town on our way to our Sister Circle.  While we were parking my phone rang and it was Aub.  I looked in my rearview mirror.  Yep, she was back there.  Car looked okay.

“What?” I answered.  Yeah, I’m that kind of loving Mama.

“I think….I mean, I’m pretty sure…..is that a frog on my door?”

I was grabbing my supply bag and getting ready to close my car door. “I don’t know, get out and see.”

“I can’t.  Unh uh.”

I looked back.  She was still sitting in her car.  Cooter ran over and started jumping up and down, pretty much a confirmation that an amphibian had taken up residence.  I walked over.  Yep, a frog.

Note the college girl in the driver's seat holding her phone for dear life.  I have no idea how long he'd been riding like that, but you are correct, he does look a bit pale.  Probably terrified out of his mind.  What must he have thought when he found himself hanging on for dear life ONA CAR zippadeedoodahing down the road?
Note the college girl in the driver’s seat holding her phone for dear life. I have no idea how long he’d been riding like that, but you are correct, he does look a bit pale. Probably terrified out of his mind. What must he have thought when he found himself hanging on for dear life ON A CAR zippadeedoodahing down the road?

We regrouped and left him to his own devices to recover and went in for our Sister Circle.  My sweet sisters were already there and waiting.  We had great conversation and a lot of fun creating with a different way of painting, but that’s a story for another night.  One of our sisters, T, decided to use her favorite thing, the markers, to make her picture.  She drew this:

Home sweet home.  If only.
Home sweet home. If only.

When I walked over and admired her picture, I realized that this was a theme for her.  She draws houses and homes with birds or rainbows or sunshine.  My heart broke in that moment.  My dear sister friend is like the deer running out of resources.  I am not sure of her living situation, but I know it is not ideal.  She has been mistreated and abused by people she called friends and whom she trusted.  She has had moments, too many of them, feeling like those rabbits hiding from the fox.  She might have shelter but she doesn’t have sanctuary.  She might have food but her soul is starving.  She is trying to bloom in the midst of all around her.  I know she is, she has dreams and she’s shared some of them.  But like that frog today, I am afraid she is looking around, thinking where am I?  How did I get HERE?  And how on earth do I get off of this ride?  Please?!

There are many T’s in this world, in our own little community.  Living in habitats that are not fit for any living thing or person.  I have watched a dear friend stumble out from behind a dumpster sitting next to local restaurant.  Where he had been “LIVING.”  If he had been a dog, I know full well someone would have picked him up and cared for him before then.  How did we, our world, our people, our sisters and brothers, get to this point?  Adaptability in habitats is one thing, but no one should live like that.  Or like T is either.

Today is T’s birthday.  I didn’t know, but two of our sister friends did and they brought her some gifts they’d gotten especially for her.  I saw her hang her head and be overcome with shyness.  But I also saw something else.  Something that shone light through my broken heart and filled me with hope.  I saw this school of fish that protects each other from harm gather T in and hold her close.  I saw them care and I saw them love.  It wasn’t about the gifts, though that was so precious of them.  It was about them noticing her and taking her into their fold.  That right there people.  I am humbled.  And inspired.

Today is T’s birthday and my friend Baddest Mother Ever‘s birthday too.  When I was in the midst of my most vulnerable times, she gathered me into her “school” and made me feel safe and cared for.  Both of these women are important to me.  Both of them, so different, yet so much alike–they both inspire me with their stories and with their resiliency and with their unending capacity to love.

Today T gave me her picture.  On her birthday, she gave ME her picture of her “home.”

I was honored and touched by her heart.  I will keep it to remind me of our dreams and that until we all have a safe place to lay our heads, none of us can truly sleep well.

Before she left, I gave T this.  I had nothing else to give her but my love, which she already has.

20131022-222721.jpgIt’s nothing much.  I gave it to her with a hug and a whisper about dreaming and birthday wishes and walking with her to see them come true.  This is my birthday wish for T and for Baddest Mother Ever too.  I love you both, and this is what I want for you.  For your heart’s desire, for your very special wish from your heart, for that to be granted.  For there always to be a school of folks ready to gather you in and stay right by your side. For you to continue to be strong and share your stories with the world so they will know about beauty in brokenness and hope in the dark.  And for you to find strength in your weakness and find a way to hang on during those bumpy rides.  Most of all, I want you both to know how much you are loved.  And treasured.  Because you are.  ❤

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2 thoughts on “Habitats and Hope, Happy Birthdays and Hanging On

    1. At first I was worried, because this kind of sounds like one of the fish at Go Fish that was rather sick, but now I get it, and I’m glad you are okay. Hehehe. I love you too. I hope your day was joy-filled and goofy good. And that the coming days find more of your dreams and wishes coming true.

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