Roadside Delicacy

Sorry to say, this post is not about a new little bakery located conveniently along the side of the road, making delectable eclairs or macaroons, luring me in, tempting me. It’s about flowers. And Avengers. And coffee and bourbon. Hey, does anyone have any chocolate?

You know how dialog works. Two or more people on the same topic. All pretty focused. All engaged, curious, polite. The subject can be interesting even – maybe about the Avengers, or someone’s great uncle who left an inheritance no one saw coming, or what about this new pasta you don’t have to drain, or the accident that caused a four-mile back-up on the highway this morning.

Then suddenly something catches your eye and you get distracted. Anyone forgives you for interrupting a conversation to call attention to a burning building in the distance, or a collision about to happen, or a large insect entering your zone, or anything in your field of vision resembling a superhero or (oh, dear) Thanos. Have I been watching too many Marvel movies lately?

Something as ordinary and unimportant as roadside wildflowers should definitely not qualify as conversation-stoppers. I confess! I did it! Look at the face I got for asking him to hold both leashes so I could take a photo…roadside3.jpg

…of flowers! Yes, look – those sweet yellow flowers to the left. No one asks them to grow there. No one plants them, tends them, nurtures them. They just come. They just brighten the roadside with their sunny color and delicate form. They brighten our world unasked (oh, that we would take their example!).

roadside1.jpg

Those of you who are looking beyond Samuel’s mildly annoyed expression may notice that he is not wearing shoes. Please know that this is not because he doesn’t own shoes. He does. He just chooses to walk barefoot on the gravel of our road because… because… “Samuel, why do you still walk barefoot sometimes?”

“Why would I not?”

Need a person know more?

“I hadn’t been doing it so much recently because it was winter,” he added.

Okay.

Exploring this further, he says walking on the stones is a lot like drinking black coffee or strong bourbon, or exercising regularly and vigorously, or eating very spicy foods. All of these things are inherently unpleasant – the strong flavor or pushing yourself physically is a kind of barrier to get over or through.

The beauty and the enjoyment are in the complexity of the flavor or the exercise (or even the stones, sharp and uncomfortable as they are). Give a child a choice between sugar and black coffee, he suggests, and the child will choose sugar hands-down every time. But as you mature and can learn to appreciate the nuances, the layers, the waves of an experience like drinking black coffee or a new bourbon (which he says is really good — can’t touch the stuff myself).…

bourbon (2).2mp.jpg

… you partake of something much more interesting. As for myself, I choose shoes when walking on gravel roads and am happy-happy with a good piece of chocolate, which does not require any flavor, strength or conditioning barriers. You just eat it and soar.

Speaking of complex and interesting, we are heading to see the Avengers End Game tonight as part of Samuel’s birthday celebration, having just seen Captain Marvel at the Violet Crown last week. We’ve been working up to this since Christmastime, when our trip to the movies to see The Return of Mary Poppins sparked a trip to see Aquaman, which got the whole superhero thing going. We chose the Marvel series and have wrapped up all of the necessary pre-reqs for End Game and hope it is as good as people are saying. A lady in my CASA training course the other day said a big guy in a seat in front of her at the movie was blubbering at one point – blubbering as in something being tearjerkingly sad. We shall see if it is also complex and interesting…

…Oh! Look at these lovely lavender blooms, again there along the roadside with no planning or effort on anyone’s part.

Hey, can you hold this leash while I take a photo?

roadside4.jpg

I did it again. Right in the middle of Avengers talk, I had to take a picture. I don’t think I do this often (oh, no! maybe I do!), but I am quite sure it happened when it did because just the very day before, Samuel and Mom and I were talking about the verbal and nonverbal habits we all have, how we interject a certain word or phrase far more than is necessary as a kind of filler or finish people’s sentences for them or play with our hair (I don’t know anyone who does that!). Another habit is interrupting the flow of conversation with a random, non-following comment such as: you are talking about how you made your pizza and the other person looks out the window and says, “Oh, I need to remember to get Q-tips.”

Point being, I was totally guilty of the same thing that I have repeatedly observed in others and even annoys me! Am I modeling their behavior, monkey-see-monkey-do, or simply prone to the same? I catch myself, chide myself, apologize and again try to focus – but you know this world is just so complex and so interesting!! Take the lavender flowers for instance… 😊

So, about Aquaman…

If you know me a little, you might be surprised at what I am going to say. If you don’t know me, I can tell you that I am a country girl who paints her toenails, that I love staring at a full moon through the trees on a clear night, that I have 22 ridiculous chickens that live a (some might say) pampered life (they have a heat lamp for the cold nights of Virginia), that a thrill for me is watching a beautiful dog run in the sunshine or hearing the sound of frogs in the creek. I don’t like roller coasters, fast cars, explosions or violence.

But I thought Aquaman was awesome!

aquaman (2).png

I’m just not a superhero kind of girl so this is an odd thing for me to think, say or feel – more than odd, you might say. Unexpected. Shocking even. I like crime dramas that are intelligently done, historical dramas that are reasonably realistic and romantic comedies that are not overly sappy or predictable. I love Blue Planet and Planet Earth (I and II). I love zoos, aquariums, mountains, beaches, lightly falling rain, the soft smile of a child, the velvety fur of a puppy, the natural. I don’t generally go for the glitzy, the fake, the fast, the wicked, the destruction.

I didn’t go see this film unwillingly though. When we went to Mary Poppins last week, we saw the poster for Aquaman and laughed. That’s the poster picture above. C’mon, look at that guy. How unnatural is that! But Samuel wanted to see it, said he “would be happy to go.” The fact that I would even consider it rather shocked him I expect, and then I brought it up again today. Sure, let’s go. I said to myself Someday I’ll look back at the time when Samuel was here and when that day comes, I don’t want to think Why didn’t I just go to the movie he thought would be fun to see? What would have been the harm? Why be a fuddy-dud?

It’s not that I thought it would be any good. I just didn’t want Samuel to think he knows me too well. It’s good to stay a little unpredictable, contributes to an unboring path. And I was curious. What’s all the fuss? Nonetheless I can say honestly that “It was awesome” was the last thing I expected to be saying afterward. Why was it awesome (to me)?

Genuine love portrayed: Love between man and a woman (he of the land, she of the sea – stay with me here) – they meet and love and have a child, Arthur, who is called a half-breed by his enemies later. A mother’s love for her son: She leaves for the child’s protection when he is young, and (back to love between man and a woman) every day afterward the man goes looking for her, hoping she will return, which she couldn’t for a long time because she was trapped. A son’s love for his father: Instead of leaving the scene to save himself, Arthur pulls his dad from his truck after the sea went crazy and tidal-waved it upside down. I love seeing genuine love portrayed because I believe there is such a thing and I love to see it, even in a superhero movie.

Genuine good guys and bad guys: No moral ambiguity, no hidden or not-so-hidden political agenda (I hate it when movies insert their political agendas). No wondering whose side anybody’s on. No sympathy lost on undeserving scumbags. Just good guys who fight valiantly for the good and bad guys who lust for power and don’t care who or how they hurt to get it. (And I don’t mean good males and bad males. I’m from New Jersey where “you guys” is not gender-specific.)

The hilarity of the over-the-top, fantastical creatures in their bizarre underwater world: Who gets to make this stuff up!? How much fun they must have had! For example, the “trenchers” attacking the fishing boat that Arthur/Aquaman and the somehow-also-air-breathing female lead named Mera had used for one of their escapes: Really?! Someone had a lot of fun with this scene (and all the rest) and you can tell. I could scoff, but why? Instead why not marvel at this (yet another) creative way of saying Evil tries so hard to get the better of them! But it does not succeed.

Evil fails to prevail. Of course it fails. That is why we love superheros. They triumph! They conquer evil against the odds. They defy norms and expectations. They survive absurd battle scenes. They encounter yet another challenge and they don’t let it defeat them. They act with integrity despite having cause for cynicism, bitterness and exhaustion. They use strength and power for good, mirroring longstanding archetypes that we know within ourselves hold true. They even make us laugh. And when they have the opportunity to kill the bad guy, what do they do?? You’ll find out. All you have to do is go see Aquaman, even if that’s the last thing someone expects you to do. Maybe you should defy their expectations…