Tonight's picture was taken on Mattie's very first day of kindergarten in September of 2007. I remember that day vividly because for me, it was a day filled with stress and anxiety. This was really Mattie's very first experience being gone the whole day from me and I just did not know how that would go. It took Mattie several months to adjust to elementary school, this was not something he took to easily. However, once he met his two close friends, things started to fall into place for him. Mattie's classmates are headed back to school this week and as each new school year comes and goes, I can't believe or rationalize that Mattie never experienced first, second, third, or NOW fourth grade.
Quote of the day: At some of the darkest moments in my life, some people I thought of as friends deserted me-some because they cared about me and it hurt them to see me in pain; others because I reminded them of their own vulnerability, and that was more than they could handle. But real friends overcame their discomfort and came to sit with me. If they had not words to make me feel better, they sat in silence (much better than saying, "You'll get over it," or "It's not so bad; others have it worse") and I loved them for it. ~ Harold Kushner
Peter received a call today from one of our friends and former neighbors. I did not realize that our friend is still a faithful blog reader and I was very touched to hear that he considers it his "lifeline" on his most difficult and challenging days. It is nice to get such powerful feedback and to know that my thoughts and feelings could potentially be helpful and helping others. Our friend's phone call was a gift, because to me the ultimate gift is when someone takes the time to listen and share feelings with me.
Before I tell you about our day, I want to introduce you to our newest friend on our deck, a Grasshopper! This grasshopper was sitting on top of our deck door the other day as I was watering our plants. Today he jumped out at me again, and clearly has made a home in our flower boxes. Mattie would have absolutely LOVED this fellow!
I suggested to Peter that we take a drive to Calvert Cliffs State Park today. From DC, it takes over an hour to drive to this park, because it is along the Chesapeake Bay. We took Mattie to this park at least three times and though it was an aggressive trip for Mattie, he always enjoyed it. It is aggressive because it involves a lot of walking before you actually can get access to the beach. Try two miles there and two miles back to the car with a preschooler! But the beach is quite secluded and if you dig in the sand correctly you can usually come home with a fossil.
Here are some specifics about the Park..... Calvert Cliffs State Park (located in Lusby, MD) is a day-use park featuring a sandy beach, unique fossils, a freshwater and tidal marshland, and 13 miles of hiking trails located in Calvert County. The massive cliffs from which Calvert Cliffs State Park was named dominates the shoreline of the Chesapeake Bay for thirty miles in Calvert County and were formed over 15 million years ago when all of Southern Maryland was covered by a warm, shallow sea. When the sea receded 20-25 million years ago, marking the end of the Miocene period, cliffs were exposed and began eroding. Today these cliffs reveal the remains of prehistoric species including sharks, whales, rays, and seabirds that were the size of small airplanes. A hike of 2 miles is taken from the parking lot, along an unimproved trail to the cliff's beach area. Over 600 species of fossils have been identified from these cliffs, with the teeth of various species of shark as the most abundant fossils.
As we began walking in the woods to head to the beach, we came across this wonderful lizard. He is camouflaged so well with the ground it is almost impossible to see him in this picture. Based on the pictures I am showing you this evening, it should be NO surprise to see why Mattie loved Calvert Cliffs State Park.This is a sight I could have done without. I despise snakes and yet I am always the first one to spot one! This Black Snake freaked me out and I did a pretty good job on scaring him as well. He couldn't wait to get away from me. Meanwhile, as I was having a fit, Peter was snapping a picture of the snake.
The walk in the woods is quite beautiful and serene and the trail eventually opens up onto a marshy area. As you can see the water was covered with waterlilies, which always remind me of the impressionist painter, Monet.
At the end of the two mile walk is Calvert Cliff State Park Beach. The sandy portion of the beach is quite small and today the shoreline was filled with families and children, all searching for fossils. I packed a picnic lunch and we sat and ate. However, I could tell Peter wasn't happy. It was hard to be back to a place he had played with Mattie, and what didn't help was we were surrounded by children. It is a sad commentary when we are outside, by the Bay, and in the sunshine and even that can't bring us happiness.As we walked two miles back to the car, we came across a Green Snake. Now I don't like snakes, but even this green fellow did not scare me. He seemed like an extension of a plant. Weekends in general are complicated for us, but long weekends are almost impossible. We support each other and at the same time we can bring each other down. It is a fine balance surviving grief with a spouse, and some days we do it better than others.