July 02, 2009

Learning to Fly

It's a quiet house this week. There are no legos or other toys scattered across the floor of the living room. The various children's items that are usually spread out on the dining table have been replaced by a flower vase.

Both boys are at camp this week.

Tristan is at Loch Leven, our regional church camp. This is the first year he is old enough to go for a full week, and he was very excited about it.

Ethan is at Camp Cherry Valley, a boy scout camp on Catalina Island. It's his first week-long boy scout camp, and he was very nervous about going.

A few hours after the boys left, Ginger and I sat down at the table for dinner. For several weeks, we had been looking forward to enjoying nice, quiet meals at home. We began to eat, but had trouble engaging in any dinner conversation. We've become so used to having such conversations interrupted or diverted during dinner, that we somehow couldn't figure out how to have one on our own.

I kept waiting for the interruption. The kids weren't here, but maybe the phone would ring. Did I want it to ring? I wasn't sure. All sorts of questions were floating around in my mind, most of them concerning Ethan, the child who was nervous about camp, the one who would be responsible for managing his type-1 diabetes on his own for a week. Would he be able to calculate his insulin dosages accurately? Would his blood sugar levels be in enough control for him to have an enjoyable week? Would the adults who are with him know what to do if Ethan needed help managing his diabetes, or--God forbid--his blood sugars get so off that he needs immediate medical attention?

Yes, maybe it would nice if Ethan called, just to ask how much insulin he needed for, say, the ice cream sandwich he bought at the snack bar.

I know some parents of kids with type-1 diabetes would be horrified that my wife and I have allowed our eleven year-old to spend a week at a place where he's responsible for his own diabetes care. Yes, there is a camp nurse; but we've not met nor spoken to her. We don't even know that the nurse is a "her;" it could be a "him."

In the movie Earth, which was released by Disney this spring, there's a scene in which some young birds are learning to fly. They jump out of the top of a tree and--well, as James Earl Jones narrates, "it's not so much flying as 'falling with style.'" (Watch this clip here.)

This week, I'm wondering what those parent birds were thinking when they sent their little ones off on their first flight. Were the parent birds terrified? After all, having their little ones jump out of the top of a tree when they can't really fly yet isn't exactly the safest thing to do. Were the parents worried? Were mama bird and papa bird tempted to just keep their little ones in the nest, where they'd be safe?

I know, I'm putting human emotions into animals, and that those parent birds didn't feel any of those things. Which is probably a good thing. If they had, those birds may have stayed safe inside the nest... they would have survived another day... but they would never have been allowed to live.

To live, one needs to take some risks.

Note: Next week is my week to go to camp, and it's likely I'll be taking the week off from blogging.

1 comment:

Natalie Gaber said...

Hi Danny,

I know you're out of town this week, but I wanted to give you the heads up since this seemed up your alley for Field of Dandelions. We are gearing up to launch a new website called Sierra Club Trails. It's (as far as we know) the first-ever comprehensive hiking wiki...A website where anyone can post their favorite hikes and anyone else can edit the descriptions so that the trails are constantly up-to-date. The site is up and running in a beta test now, and we're planning to launch it this Thursday, July 9th - so I wanted to make sure you were in the loop.


What makes this site unique is that it's a wiki - i.e. anyone can update or edit the trails that are posted. So if I post a trail in, say, Yosemite, and you've been there recently and saw that part of the trail is really muddy, or the bugs are bad this time of year, or if camping spots are getting really popular and should be reserved in advance, you can update that.

In addition to hiking and paddling trails, the site also features tips for hikers, a birding blog, photo contests, and Nature Notes, a series of audio features based on interviews with naturalists and Sierra Club Outings leaders. Sierra Club Trails is also an online community where users can create profiles and meet other hikers and nature-lovers, as well as join discussion forums with topics like the best trail mix recipe or whether guns should be allowed in national parks. Community members can form groups around a particular outdoor interest or place.

Does this sound like something you'd be interested in covering for your blog?

The link is www.sierraclubtrails.org - and the logo is on Flicrk here - http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2604/3701119013_84723f28d9.jpg


Natalie Gaber
Sierra Club
85 Second Street, Second Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 977-5526