"Mom. So you know how Martin Luther King Jr. was killed? That's bad. But that's only half of it. The other half it's so bad is because he was such a good person and doing such important work."
I just re-read Dr. King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail. His call to action and reminder that tension is necessary for progress towards justice and equality are just as relevant and important than ever. Wyatt, for his part, has been studying the pictures and illustrations in I am Martin Luther King, Jr. since Saturday, when it arrived from his grandparents. We have read the book to him many times already, but there is still more to learn from studying the illustrations and the photos. He remains astounded by the images of the throngs of people who gathered to hear Dr. King speak ("Look! Those are people! I thought it was a field of flowers!") as well as the images of the people marching.
Today was our beach clean-up day. Wyatt, his flamingo hat, and I went with some friends from school, and it was absolutely terrific. To start, our friends had us over to their house for a delicious (second) breakfast before we got started. And then, even though all five of us volunteers would all have been perfectly happy to just pick up trash with our own gloves and call it a Great Day, we got so much more. The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy is such a class act. They provided buckets, gloves, kids activity books, pencils, and the opportunity for the youngest volunteers to be sworn in as a Junior Ranger at the end of the project. They were more than ready for all 267 of us registered volunteers.
I think we were all expecting there to be a lot of easy, obvious trash to pick up, but there wasn't. In fact, at first glance, the beach looked pretty clean. But once we started focusing more closely, hunting for trash like you would seashells, we found lots of shards of sharp glass, plastic straws, bits of colored plastic, dental floss, paper, Lego pieces, plastic toys, bits of plastic bags, and a syringe. Fortunately there was no needle attached to the syringe, because one of the kids proudly presented it in her fist as a "Great piece of trash that does not belong on the beach!" As her mother and I suddenly realized, the Ranger's warning not to pick up dog poop or dead birds meant something (and probably wasn't even necessary--that stuff's gross). But "Don't pick up hypodermic syringes or needles!" might as well have been "Don't pick up fitzwooshles or tizzywhats!" If you have no idea what they are, and you're five, you might incorrectly conclude there's no way you could find any.
By the end of the project, the children had answered the necessary questions in their activity books, and Ranger Maria was ready to check their work, administer the Junior Ranger Pledge, and give them their badge.
Thanks to the pledge, charming Petey the Golden Plover who stars in the activity book, and all the bits of plastic and straws we found, Wyatt has renewed interest in minimizing plastic waste. If we ever needed proof that action makes a difference, we have it now.
But wait, there's more! I have been all talk lately about how I want us to make dinner together on the weekend. I have been grumbling, whining, and announcing this wish for months; but until this weekend, I had no plan to put my wish into action. The key, as it turned out, was to make a simple plan for a meal where everyone could do something and I didn't have to orchestrate much. We made Mark Bittman's super easy and great Salmon Roasted in Butter, the most delicious recipe for Baby Bok Choy I've ever found, and Wyatt made his specialty: fried potatoes. He uses a crinkle cutter to get them the right size and shape and then shallow-fries them in avocado oil. Once ready, he rains a sprinkle of Kosher salt down on them, and we gobble them up.