That kid

It took only a few minutes for Peter to begin seeing the difference between a red raspberry and a ripe, black berry. The black berries are good, sweet and juicy. The red berries are still sour and tart not yet ready to pick. He wouldn’t try either. But using his young eyes he could spot the black ones and point them out.


Soon, he reached into the bush to pick some of the berries. Doing so, he learned another difference. Ripe berries slide off the stem easily. Berries not yet ready to pick cling tighter to the stem. Peter then examined the berries more carefully. Black berries defend themselves with prickly stems and hide under leaves. He learned that, too, using his magnifying glass.

Seeing these real time, real world lessons take hold is like watching a miracle. How much any of this will stick with a three-year-old down the road I do not know. Yet, there was cause and effect, reason, memory, logic. Lots of little gears get turned.

The COVID summer of 2020 is a classic example of a monkey wrench jammed in the gears. Everybody is affected to one extent or the other. My family and I are privileged and fortunate enough to have coped successfully. At least so far.

Our success isn’t without its sacrifices. My plan for the year was to finish hiking the eastern half of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. What was left was roughly Mauthe Lake, east of Campbellsport, to Potawatomi State Park in Door County. In the midst of a COVID storm, I decided to forgo my notion.

Besides, there are more important things. First is to take care of the family as well as possible. In that, the Summer of COVID created a remarkable opportunity. Two days a week, I have traveled to Milwaukee to take care of my grandson, Peter. Preschool ended abruptly for him. No word, no heads up, just one day open next day closed. Peter’s mom and dad both work as essential employees. It was a scramble to find care in the face of a pandemic and I was blessed to have two days a week to jump in.

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