Envy isn’t generally part of my sin- lexicon. There are plenty of other character flaws, but not that one, normally. Lots of relationship skills, a lovely house, long legs, well-traveled, highly educated, all those things I am not, they do not cause envy. Mostly my response is “good for you! tell me all about it!”
Except this morning. (you saw that coming, right?)
Himself and I were going over the upcoming week. What we’re doing and when, coordinating calendars, all that stuff married people do. He has a busy week, I do not. Wednesday for him involves a trip to Brunswick (no, I do not envy that), and he informed me that Thursday will make Wednesday bearable.
“Why so?”I query.
“We’re doing a Benthic study on the river.” he replies.
“What does that involve?” I ask.
“Well, basically we spend the entire day in a john boat, floating down the river, taking a census of minnows and macro-invertebrates. If we don’t get far enough down the river we’ll have to do it Friday as well.”
Cue the green eyed monster. He gets to spend and entire day, possibly two, floating down a South Georgia blackwater river, scooping up wee fish and water striders and sifting through mud for tiny mussels.
Normally I am really happy when he gets to do stuff like this. It’s a big change from conference calls and meetings and cleaning up other people’s mistakes. How peaceful can that be? Floating down a river, one with lots of shady places and wade-able places and a cooler full of not-beer (only a cooler full of beer could improve the situation but it’s WORK thus Serious Bizness.) and probably a shotgun in case of the inevitable water moccasin to keep things exciting. I mean, I suppose I *am* really happy for him, and my envy isn’t the sort that says NO! If I can’t have this then neither should you!. It’s more the kind that whines and pouts and stomps it’s foot and says NOT FAIR I WANT TO GO TOO.’
So when I did that (minus the foot stomp, it was early yet) he said if I would make the trip to Brunswick for him, he would let me come on the river trip. That won’t work, though, as the officials there would likely notice that I am not Himself, what with the 11 inch height difference and 100 pound weight difference and lack of facial hair. I offered to put mascara on my chin and wear stacked boots but no, it would still be problematic since I would have no idea what they were talking about.
When I was a kid, the Oconee River in North Georgia was about 1/2 mile through the woods behind our house.
It had river otters, and a beaver swamp on the way. It was my Happy Place, and hours were spent there with Daisy (my mutt), watching the otters slide down the bank, wading in shallows, and poking at the tiny mussels. Weekend often included a canoe, and a 10+ mile trip on the river. It was peaceful, the physical and philosophical opposite of the grinding misery of school, the perfect rejuvenation for a weary teenager.
The swamp was a wonderful place. You went through a grove of very old oaks to get to it, like something you’d see in a movie with knights and warhorses and faire maidens in distress. on one side was a hill, leading up to more woods and a shack. on the other side was a meadow that would be covered with violets in the Spring. Not a huge area, maybe an acre or so, but purple and white and green. Daisy the Mutt loved the swamp, and would find a muddy spot just deep enough and submerge with her nose out of the water, and blow bubbles. I would collect water plants, mussels, and minnows, and make an aquarium in my room, to keep a piece of it there.
The woods were full of tiny things, monkey jugs (wild ginger), wintergreen, partridgeberry, all sorts of mosses and fungi and beautiful wee flowers.
Even today, 35 years later, the woods and a river mean calm peace to me. It’s where I see God in the small parts of creation, in the infinite variety and the way it all works together to make a place that works, quiet and implacable, and I can simply be a part of it.
Instead, however, Himself will come home, happy and restored for being out in the nature for a day, scooping up waterbugs and counting minnows. I will not be in nature, but likely will go to the (s)mall and indulge in retail therapy, or maybe stay home and read about nature.