Things change gradually. Most of the changes are so small, that we do not notice them. Is Bow bigger today than yesterday? Is he more mature? I cannot tell. When does the youthful yellow dandelion transition to being a fuzzy white elder? Most of the time you cannot tell, because the moment of transition goes by unnoticed.
But if we do notice a transition in the making and stop to wonder about it, it looks a little awkward.
Yesterday evening, I went to feed the kitten in the barn, but long before I got there, in the distance, I spotted the kitten sitting patiently outside in front of the barn, waiting for me to show up. That threw me so badly that I turned around and went right back in the house.
|I took the picture this morning, when the kitten showed me it can go out|
Well, to be more precise, I went back to get my camera, so I could take a picture of the kitten sitting in front of the barn. But by the time I returned, the kitten was not in front of the barn anymore. It was meowing at me helplessly from inside the barn, just as it had every day before, as if it did not know how to leave. Was this assumed helplessness an act it had been putting on for me for weeks now, just to get me to feed it?
Mind you, the barn is not even fully enclosed, so there was nothing keeping the kitten from leaving it all along. But just as it seemed unable to leave the stroller at first, later it seemed to be totally unaware that there was an easy way out of the barn.
The barn is where I used to paint along with Sword, while Bow watched us from the playpen. That was when Sword was four and Bow was a year and a half. It's in the barn that I painted most of the illustrations for In Case There's a Fox.
When I have not been looking, the kitten seems to have been rearranging some of the things in the barn and playing with used up paint canisters.
This morning, the kitten waited for me in the barn, but it did not hesitate to show me that it could in fact step over the threshold and into the grass.
At what point should I stop feeding it and expect the kitten to start earning its own keep? I am confused. It looks so tiny and helpless, and if it wandered outside in the field, it would make some hawk a very nice meal. So I feel a little protective seeing it wander outside alone. But on the other hand... how else is this supposed to work? And am I assuming too much about the kitten's age based on its size? How long had it been in the barn before I discovered it? Could it be much older than I think, but small because underfed?
I spotted two daisies in the woods today. One was very tall, and the other was very short, but they both were blooming.
Looking at the daisies, one is tempted to say, "There is an adult daisy, and that's a baby daisy." But I don't think that's how it works with daisies. If they have flowered, then it means that they are both sexually mature. The big daisy must have somehow had access to more nutrients and more sunlight, so it grew big and tall. Or, alternatively, it could have a genetic difference that makes it stay small. Or it could be a combination of the two factors.
They say we should live in the moment and not worry too much about the past or the future. But the true significance of each moment would be lost on us, unless we saw them in the greater context of the moments that came before and the moments to come.
The honeysuckle is just starting to bloom, and its blossoms are white. Bumblebees are attracted to its flowers.
But when I spot a yellow blossom on the same vine as a white one, what does that mean?
Are they different colored flowers? Or are they simply more mature? A snapshot of anything frozen in time -- a person, a country, a language, a culture -- tells us very little. It is the historical context that helps to recognize transitions and interpret trends.
By all means, live in the moment. But no moment is isolated, and the real meaning of it all comes from the historical context. I have yet to understand the history of this kitten. How did it come to be here? Where is the mother? Were there others in the litter? How old is it and how much does it need my help? When should I start letting go? I will keep piecing the facts together until I figure it out.