To Boldly Ask What No One Has Ever Asked Before


Playing in the dirt from a young age
Playing in the dirt from a young age

We had just passed a road construction site on the small two-lane state highway on the way from our hotel to my Dad’s house. The new road cuts and construction revealed bright red dirt— really red dirt, even by the standards of the Piedmont Plateau in Georgia.

From the back seat my daughter asked, “Mom, what kinds of worms do they have here in Georgia?”

“The same species that we have in Wisconsin, why?” I answered.

There was a thoughtful silence, then “But they poop out red dirt?”

It is truly a miracle that my husband managed to keep the rental car on the road.

Actually, it was an insightful question.

I love the fact that my daughter was looking at the world around her, formulating a hypothesis based on what she knew, and testing that hypothesis—in this case by asking a question. It was a bold thing to do.

I can’t remember the last time I looked at my world and dared to earnestly ask such a bold question. And I’m a trained scientist.

Springtime TransformationsMy daughter has rescued many earthworms after a hard rain, and she knows a lot about composting because she loves to play in the dirt. I have pictures of her when she could barely walk, “planting” flowers with me. She helps Papa plant his garden in the spring and harvest the vegetables in the fall. She loves to go fishing, and is a fearless explorer of wooded paths or ponds and streams.

Turn her loose in the kitchen and you will soon be making apple smiles, mango and pineapple smoothies and other delightful concoctions. Don’t have the ingredients for something? That’s no excuse. And if you give her the same prepackaged food for snack every day at school, you will be informed that your snacks are boring and she is taking over the task. (I’m secretly hoping that she’ll start making my lunch.)

She’s creative and brave and willing to have a kitchen disaster if necessary.

Need a friend? She’ll introduce herself and freely give you a compliment, often telling complete strangers that she thinks they are beautiful. When was the last time you went up to a person and smiled and said, “Hello, My name is Michele, what’s yours?”

Childhood is marked by a bold curiosity that we as adults often quash with hurried schedules—rushing children along when they want to stop, observe and interact with the marvelous and amazing world in which we live.

I’m approaching an age in which I see a chance to practice the bold curiosity of childhood—to stop and smell the flowers, truly see other people and wonder at the world around me—daring to ask bold and hard questions.

And, I am so glad that I have such a wonderful role model to follow.

© 2015 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.

Author: Michele

Michele Arduengo is a life science and medical writer by profession and a creative non-fiction writer by hobby. In addition to publishing Grits and Purls since 2008, Michele has published essays in Wisconsin Woman, Chicken Soup for the Soul and has a weekly column in her local newspaper.

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