Two Biologists and A Boy: Slowness in Spring

Spring. Green shoots of grass jut from beneath their matted, hay-like predecessors. A confused flicker jackhammers the top of a streetlight to entice a mate. From across the cul-de-sac comes Ted Baker, carrying a six-pack en route to meet Jimmy Sutton out on the back green space, three doors down. If that doesn’’t confirm a shift in seasons, the fact that Geoff, Dylan and I are in varying stages of fighting a spring cold does.

Dylan caught it at school, and two weeks later still has chest congestion that sounds a bit like he’’s sucking breath through Jell-O. The virus overtook Geoff last night, causing him to sputter his way through the dark hours until 6:00 am, when he got up for the early shift. I imagine him chasing cranky, pregnant elk off of the Information Centre lawn while Kleenex flows from his breast pocket. I have been fighting the cold for over a week, and was so out of it I woke up this morning drooling on the pillow. I feel like I could sleep the day away and be perfectly okay with it, but Dylan needs pancakes.

Taking it slow with ninja in the grass. Photo courtesy Niki Wilson.

Therefore, today is a home day. Dylan and I have decided to minimize logistics and maximize relaxing and puttering. I always feel guilty when I make the decision to stay home, wondering if I am being a lazy parent.

Maybe I should instead have Dylan at the ski hill for a tailgate party, or be hiking him all over the Pyramid Bench Land while facilitating a life-changing wilderness experience. Why is it so hard to admit I just need a day off?

Well, it’s not exactly a day off. There are the taxes to finish and soccer emails to go out. Dylan needs clean pants for school. But basically what we are after is slowness. Moving un-scheduled through the day. Having time to notice the sun has found its way around Whistlers Mountain and finally shines on the front walkway. Here, Dylan sets himself up with his bin of Ninjago Lego. The grass becomes the bamboo in which his ninja battle. He decides to shake it up a bit and assigns them all different coloured pants. They are “customizable,” he tells me, before assigning them each a new suite of scythes, swords and shurikens.

I rake away the dusty old leaves around him, the raking more meditation than work. Enveloped in the first warmth of the year, I listen to Dylan disappear into his imagination, and then find my way into my own. Blissful hours pass, but we don’’t notice.

Niki Wilson

Niki Wilson

Niki Wilson is a contributing editor and writer for Highline Magazine. A writer, journalist and science communicator, she makes her home in Jasper, AB. Other publications include: Canadian Wildlife Magazine, BioScience, Natural History Magazine and the Science Media Centre of Canada, Earth Touch News Network, the Fitzhugh, and Experimental Popular Science. Find more at, or on twitter @niki_wilson.


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