For My Daughter on Her Birth Day: February 3, 2017

For My Daughter on Her Birth Day: February 3, 2017

When you get a little bigger your mom and I are going to introduce you to the maples in the sugarwoods. You should know them because they can teach you patience.

We’ll take you to Ginny’s and we’ll watch her bees haul gold. They’ll teach you thrift.

We’ll go to Andy’s farm and watch him turn the Valley of Vermont. The rich soil will teach you generosity.

We’ll show you the morels where they grow amidst poison ivy vines – together they’ll teach you risk and reward.

We’ll take you to the woodlot and we’ll watch Dat-Dat run his sawmill. The green lumber will teach you refinement and utility. Mimi will show you the pond, where the raccoons will teach you curiosity; the ermine will teach you courage; the otters will teach you joy.

Your uncles and I will take you to the great swamp, where the green heron will teach you to fish, if you’re observant. The sundew will teach you to trap. Run the edges with your bay dog and she’ll teach you to hunt.

Hiya and Jamie and I will take you to the East Mountain and show you the deer we share it with; they’ll teach you caution and grace.

The black trumpets we forage will hone your vision, and the cordwood we cut, your strength. The sunrise will hone your faith.

The trout lily will teach you modesty.

The wood thrush will teach you to sing.

The house cat will teach you rhythm.

The wind will teach you to dance.

When it gets a little warmer we’ll take you to the stream where your mom and I went riverwalking 9 months ago. The boulders will give you a sense of architecture and space; the forget-me-nots on the sandbar an appreciation of beauty. The trout who live here will teach you to be persistent, and the mink, to be cunning.

When you’re young and scared the roiling water will teach you to be brave – we’ll flex our thighs against the current and charge towards the river’s source.

When you’re a self-absorbed teenager, the water will teach you to be humble – we’ll jump from the river bank and study the holes in the water where we land, see just how permanent an impression we leave on the world.

The permanent impression comes later, see. You’ll notice it when you’re my age, standing in the same water with a kid by your side, flexing her thighs against the current. The kid will teach you love, and purpose, and peace.

- Dad

  1. Gib Geiger → in Waitsfield Vt.
    Feb 03, 2017

    Very nice Dave, you got me all choked up! I am a carpenter,farmer,beekeeper,sugar maker, and the father of two beautiful daughters. They are grown and have started families of their own, so far one beautiful granddaughter! I spent many hours in a stream in Warren with those two girls when they were little. They grew up knowing the joys of being outside,working on the farm, helping with the bees, but now have professional lives on the outskirts of Boston. I know they treasure those memories of just the things you mentioned. Thanks for stirring up some great memories for me. Gib

  2. Jay Wheeler → in Maine
    Feb 03, 2017

    No discussion…just a great piece.  Thanks for writing.

  3. Madeline Bodin → in Andover, VT
    Feb 03, 2017

    Lovely, as always, Dave. Very best wishes to the whole family.

  4. Karen Racette → in Adirondacks, New York
    Feb 03, 2017

    I have been remiss in renewing my subscription. Your heartfelt piece got me back on track and I am current again. Congratulations on the birth of your daughter. Enjoy the journey!

  5. Erin → in WV
    Feb 03, 2017

    Beautiful essay, Dave.  I feel inspired to write my own for my daughter who has not yet celebrated her first birthday.

  6. Collin Miller → in South Kortright NY
    Feb 04, 2017

    I too was born on Feb 3rd and I too will use the balance of man and nature to teach my 8 month old son many of these virtues. Thanks for your reflective piece. Always enjoy hearing your perspective on things.

  7. Stephen Wilder → in willow, ny
    Feb 04, 2017

    One of the best ever!

  8. brian blaine
    Feb 04, 2017

    What a powerful reminder of the lessons that can be learned from nature.  We must work to preserve the environment so that future generations can learn them as well.

  9. Mary Holland → in Hartland, VT
    Feb 04, 2017

    What a beautiful tribute to Luella Mae and to the world she’s lucky enough to be introduced to by her wise parents.  Congratulations!

  10. Garry Plunkett → in Tiverton, RI
    Feb 05, 2017

    If I had a daughter this would be my daily inspiration for how to be a good father. Even so, I’m still inspired by it, to go to the woods more often, and to breath in its beauty more fully. Thanks for this elegant poetry!

  11. steve → in Maine
    Feb 05, 2017

    Awesome, you never fail to deliver. Great piece as always thank you

  12. Tim Riegert → in Tuckerton, NJ
    Feb 10, 2017

    Be sure to save this one, Dave.
    Pass it around…
    It will become an all-time classic!!!

  13. Verandah Porche → in Guilford, VT
    Feb 12, 2017

    As you wish, bring her to me and we will press cider and poetry

  14. ken robinson → in VT
    Feb 13, 2017

    congrats on the birth or your daughter. very heartfelt & inspiring piece.. never forget this day as it comes only once in a lifetime.  God bless

  15. Kathleen Kolb → in Vermont
    Feb 13, 2017

    Dear Dave, I too am teary reading your loving tribute to your new daughter!  Hooray for you and her mom, and WELCOME to her!!

  16. Bill Risso Jr
    Feb 22, 2017

    Yikes! Absolutely beautiful! What a privileged little person. Thanks for letting us all in on such a personal message!

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