The wild coastal ragweed grows among the fading berries


Here’s the song reference.

As she does every few weeks, Grandma made the tree hour trek to our little town to spend time with us and the grandbabies.  The days we have long awaited have finally arrived, as all of the tiny people are now able to enjoy day trips that occasionally involve missing nap time.  We had planned, for this visit, a trip to a berry farm about an hour’s drive from our house, as Grandma enjoys country drives and country stores, and the midget mob loves to pick berries.

Grandma, remembering that ragweed season reaches its peak down here a little earlier than it does in her neck of the woods, had wisely taken her allergy medicine before she left home in the wee hours of yesterday morning.  Manie and I, amidst the chaos of preparing four small children and a largish van for a trip, had forgotten ours, and as we drove, we commented on the smoky purple clouds of ragweed that rose along the roadsides and medians, sneezing heartily as we talked.  Between having to referee a back seat riot involving Beanie, Bugaboo, and Mr. Man en route, our streaming eyes and noses, and the unwelcome news that there were, in fact, no berries to pick that day, we were not in the most festive of moods as we unloaded our vehicle at the farm.

Gravel crunched beneath our feet as the seven of us trudged towards the little market and eatery that serve as the information station for the farm.  Over the sound of rattling pebbles, we heard Baby Guy delightedly exclaim, “Car cars!” as he noticed the miniature wooden horse carts beside the walkway. His excitement quickly infected his siblings, and the last of their grouchiness started to evaporate.  We adults, however, were still a little out of sorts, as we had envisioned an outing full of high adventure and berries for the kids, and were disappointed that the plans we’d laid were not coming, as it were, to fruition.

Having confirmed the unavailability of any type of pick-your-own fruit with the very pleasant staff of the shop, we herded the little ones out the open back of the building, and emerged onto a pleasant porch covered in picnic tables and rocking chairs, overlooking the farm’s fields.  Grandma stopped and sighed, then quietly commented, “I think I could just sit in one of those rocking chairs and look at that vista forever.  It’s beautiful.”

We agreed.

Our quiet moment of reverie passed quickly, as Mr. Man noticed the children’s playground near the porch.  He zoomed off, squealing, “There’s a SLIDE!  There’s TWO slides!”  Baby Guy tumbled after him; Bugaboo and Beanie would have immediately followed,  had we not detoured them to the restroom first. By the time the girls emerged from the potty, Baby Guy had discovered the goats, and was cheerfully walking up and down the side of the goat pen, greeting each beastie with a cheerful, “Hi, goat!  How you, goat?”

What followed was a merry chaos, with four little kids running from swings to slides, from goat petting pen to the overhead goat catwalk (where I had to caution them NOT to stand directly underneath with mouths agape), from the picnic table to the country store, and all around the open field between.  We ate our sandwiches, indulged in fresh ice cream, and took a million pictures of children reveling in a late summer day in the country.

After three hours of rollicking fun that involved picking no fruit other than a half-dozen honeycrisp apples from a barrel in the country store, we loaded the van and headed for home, no longer disappointed that our trip had not gone according to plan.

Today’s prayer:

Lord, thank You for the reminder that You respond to prayers in one of three ways, “yes,” “wait,” and “I have something better in mind.”  We have tried so hard, Lord, to teach Your blessings to rejoice in the days You have made, even when plans are cancelled or go awry, and our actions contradicted our words on our Saturday trip.  Thank You for the wisdom to recognize that we were teaching the wrong lesson, and for the joyful cavorting of Your blessings that showed us the real blessing of a day spent enjoying Your creation and all the delicious things human hands create and harvest from Your bounty.  Please keep us mindful that You promise to give us, each day, our daily bread, and grant us the grace to recognize that the meals You plan for us often feed more than our bodies.  Inflame our hearts with a deep gratitude for what You provide, deliver us from the temptation to anger or disappointment over what earthly delights we do not have, and infuse our souls with a desire to bring our wills into union with Yours.

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