A chilly wind blew off the water through the pine and oak trees, but my heart was warm.

The former Energizer Bunny I call Mom would hurt later for lowering herself to sit on a low concrete bench by the lake. Yet she was ready, as always, to encourage me to study nature, God’s beauty.

“Look at that scaly bark tree,” she said, looking past me and over the Johnny’s Bar-B-Q cheeseburger. (She wanted a good hamburger; not a fast food one.)

“Oh, look,” she said, as Mama duck, followed by four little fuzzy waddlers, skirted the lake’s swampy edges. A pretty mallard joined them. It must be Daddy duck; she laughed recalling how she’d told her second-graders how male birds were prettier than girl birds. (She taught second grade for more than 30 years, which means she taught more than 600 children. Kids and parents loved her and all her science projects. You never know what you’ll find growing in a jar, sticking out of a baggie, or pinned to the wall at her house!)

I saw a black bird hopping on the ground and thought it had a piece of yellow straw on its side, then noticed the same on the other side. “Red-winged blackbird,” Mom said. As I wondered why yellow was called red, it flew, displaying a bright red stripe on its side.

Suddenly a bird with a white body and red head flew and landed in a tree not far away. “Red-headed woodpecker,” Mom said. She directed my steps as it darted from side to side of the tree while I tried to get a photo, but failed, as I always do, trying to get a decent picture of a bird.

A yellow butterfly flitted around the mire, landing on a yellow flower. Mom laughed about two squirrels playing on a tree.

Before we knew it, the burger and chips were gone. Stomachs were full, but so was the spirit, the heart. 

Getting off the bench wasn’t easy for one of us. Pushing a Rollator’s wheels through the pine straw a few feet to the car seemed harder than it had before. 

We ate ice cream in the car as we took an off-the-beaten-interstate path home. We marveled at cows, more cows, gardens, goats, more cows, and flowers. We stopped at J. Calvert Farms. I went in to get her strawberries, squash, and okra, things she once grew in abundance and shared with me.

“This is the first time we’ve just been out without a doctor’s appointment,” she said. No matter how much pain she’s in, she’s upbeat, positive. By now, I’d forgotten to feel guilty about leaving my usual Saturday chores behind. I told her that we were Lucy and Ethel or Thelma and Louise. She laughed.

Mom doesn’t tolerate the cold well, but spring was calling. We answered. Who notices if the wind is chilly when God has so many amazing creations for us to enjoy? The best one, though, is called Mom.

Linda Harbison Baker is Director of Development for 1819 News. She was lifestyle editor of the Daily Mountain Eagle when newspapers were still printed and has raised funds for nonprofit organizations for several years.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819News.com.

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