816 North Opinion

Oasis in city quiets the buzz of May

Thirty days hath September, April, June, November all the rest have 31 (super-fast announcer voice), except February which has 28 or 29, and May which has 45…What do you mean it only has 31?! Have you SEEN my calendar? May needs 45 maybe 50 days to get everything that needs to be done, done.

Thirty-one days. That’s so cute.

Thankfully April is May’s training month. It starts slow, business as usual then amps up in activities a little when the weather gets warm until the last week when-BLAMO! April date, May speed.

If your house is at all like mine, this last month of school is crunch time. End-of-year testing, performances, last-of-the-year events, spring AND summer sports all swirl around grad parties, birthdays, proms and weddings.

Parenting in May is not for the slow of action or the sloppy of organized.

When I flipped my week-at-a-glance to the end of April, May Speed ignited and it was Release the Kraken! all over my schedule. And there, scribbled on the margin on the already packed-to-capacity Friday, was this: Field trip?

I wrote that when my chances of going were slim. A lottery draw picked only two parents per class, my chances were 1:23. Or maybe 1:12. I was never good at math, but they were low.

I had been on my daily doctor-forced march around the neighborhood when The Call came in.

“Hi, Susan, your name got picked for the field trip,” Noah’s teacher said.

“Yay…,” huff, puff, wheeze. I was going up the steepest hill on my route and by the time I got home the call was forgotten.

Field trip? brought it back in a flush of panic. Part of me wanted to bail — so much to do, so little time — but the other part of me whined, “It’s a last.”

Next year the lad goes up to The Bigs: middle school. I don’t even know if parents are allowed to go on trips then because my other kids included in Mom’s Middle School Rules: “No. Just no.”

“Where’re we going?” I asked my son.

“I dunno, some discovery center. Sounds boring.”

Gee, kid, way to sell it.

On field trip day, I walked away from my to do list, but it was in my head on the way to school. It taunted me on the drive with three other moms and clung to me like barnacles as we drove through the chaos of traffic into the busyness of urban Kansas City.

“How is there a nature center here?” all the moms wanted to know. We were stuck in traffic mere blocks off The Plaza at Troost and 47th street…

…and then we were a million miles away: The Anita B. Gorman Conservation and Discovery Center.

Three kids’ worth of field trips, 18 years in Kansas City and this 8-acre resource maintained by the Missouri Department of Conservation was new to me.

The chants of my to do list whispered during a short film about the Lewis and Clark Expedition, then completely silenced as we walked quiet trails to identify plants, used a compass to get from point A to B and built a fire without a match.

Trails of wildflowers and the silence of a metaphor.

The busyness and chaos of May Speed mirrored the sounds and pace of the urban area around the Center until both were enveloped by stillness in the middle of chaos.

May might need 45 days to fit it all in, but I only needed one quiet day in an inner-city oasis to recharge for the challenge.

Susan Vollenweider lives in Smithville. To hear the women’s history podcast that she co-hosts or to read more of her writing visit www.thehistorychicks.com or www.susanvollenweider.com.