November 4, 2007

Get-away Gardens

Calloway is awesome. First we went to see the butterfly house. We took some pictures, but they refused to capture the experience. Pre-actually going, I was not all that enthused about the idea of visiting some relatively attractive bugs in a glass house. The BETWEEN, GEORGIA connection was strong enough to arouse a corner of my interest, so I thought, “Oh we will poke our heads in and see Butterflies, I guess…” but THEN! When we actually walked in, C.S. Lewis was hiding in some bushes and he popped out and kicked me in the nads.

Figuratively. C.S. Lewis is dead and I don’t HAVE nads. But that’s what it felt like.

By which I mean, I had the kind of spiritual experience he speaks of, the kind I NEVER have because, you know, I don’t like songs or nature and basically have a wizened acorn the squirrels rejected where the human soul sits. But. Oh. BUT! OH!

They were so IMPROBABLE.
Decked in such frivolous colors.
And they were all sailing and flapping about like alive tissues that God had tie-dyed. And there were hundreds of kinds and yet each kind had found its exact match and was poodling around and around, circling each other and the room and the trees and my body in pairs. They were busy and alive and unsentient and dear and I found myself being splashily filled to overflowing with carbonated liquid happiness, gobsmacked into joy at the lovely grand design of it all it all it all.

If you’ve experienced the C.S. Lewis nad-kick, then you know what I mean. If you have not, go see the butterfly house. It ,might work for you. I hear the Grand Canyon can do it for some people, although to me it’s like..”Oh. A big pretty hole. Let’s go have lunch.” Scott gets it from DAMS and QUARKS. It’s bizarre and leaves you breathless and pleased with the bigness of time and the universe and the speck-like, blink-fast spot in it that only you can fill.

SO, then we went to see birds of prey. They had a GORGEOUS red tail hawk named Tindell and it was neat to see him up close because a pair nests at my mom’s house and we see them sailing about. And we saw an OWL named Cedar with TUFTY ear points and a furry nose and ridiculous bulb-y mushrooms for eyes, very charming. BUT! My fave was Vinnie. Vinnie the vulture.

He was a TEENAGE vulture who humped around following his handler like the bird version of Marty Feldman---it was a lurching gurgle of a walk, funny every time. She had a pocket full of meat and he kept swooping at her to try and stuff his WHOLE BIG UGLY BALD head in the pocket. He was about 50 pounds of chuffy personality in a 20 pound rotten-flesh-eating baggy, and I LOVED him. Here he is:


Then we went and shot SKEETS! I am super very great at it!!!! SO ARE YOU!!!! I know this because you shoot skeet with a SHOTGUN! BLAM! So you do not have to waste your time with little things other guns require. For example, AIMING.

The shotgun blasts out a huge radius of CARNAGE and you just line the gun up so the skeet is IN that radius. If you try to aim, you get stuck in your head and your shoulders hunch up and you SOMEHOW miss, but it is not easy. You have to be very tense indeed. But if you go down and live in your body instead of your brain and relax, you will absolutely blast those boogers right out of the sky. I experienced shattering vioctory over MANY MANY skeets, and as we left the air was full of the lamentations of the tens of skeet-women we had widowed that day.

All I need to do now is go shoot rifles and then I have a pretty good handle on GUNS for this book I think. Shotguns, for the record, kick the CRAP out of a person’s shoulder. YARG!


This is me shooting. Note my authentic SKEET SHOOTING hat which the shotgun trainer guy put on my head because my authentic skeet-shooting hair kept blowing into my authentic skeet-shooting MAC lip gloss.

Posted by joshilyn at November 4, 2007 12:09 PM

Awesome! I knew I would be good at that! It sounds like you had a great weekend.

Just for the information of anyone who reads your comments, there is also a butterfly place in Massachusetts (in Westford I think). I can't say I ever had the religious experience that Joshilyn had but it was beautiful and I was chasing three children trying to convince them not to pull the wings off of the butterflies. So I believe the strucken with God's lovliness part is possible, just leave your bratty kids (read: MY bratty kids) at home.

How, pray tell, did he match your authentic skeet shooting had to your authentic skeet shooting jacket?

Posted by: Em at November 4, 2007 1:02 PM

I'm so happy you had a "Surprised by Joy" time with the butterflies, Joshilyn! I do like nature and often get joy there, but I also get it from some kinds of music. What a great description, though I'm sure your soul is much bigger than you give it credit for!

Thanks for sharing the Vinnie photo and description - not beautiful, but joyful in its happy-making ugliness and improbable weirdness.

Posted by: Diane (TT) at November 4, 2007 1:58 PM

I love when C.S. Lewis kicks me in the nads. It's fabulous. It's interesting that BUGS gave you that experience. But go with what tickles your Lewis nads.

Posted by: aka nik at November 4, 2007 2:06 PM

I think MAC should have a new line of lipgloss called "Skeet," and have you as the spokesmodel.

Posted by: Cornelia Read at November 4, 2007 2:32 PM

Umm ... Joss? Butterflies ARE nature. I'm just sayin'.

Oh, and bad news. Rifles kick too (depends on the caliber).

You look great in the hat though! Where can we get one like it?

Posted by: Katrina Stonoff at November 4, 2007 4:46 PM

Right. Butterflies are nature.

That's why I thought I would be unmoved...very surprising to be so NOT unmoved.

Posted by: Joshilyn at November 4, 2007 5:13 PM

I am shocked, SHOCKED! that a textbook NPR listener like you would be shooting at such harmless creatures.

I guess it's time to make another donation to the Save the Skeets Foundation to battle such redneckery:

Posted by: Ray at November 4, 2007 5:25 PM

I really like your authentic skeet-shooting sweater set! Very cute!!

Posted by: DebR at November 4, 2007 6:55 PM

I love shooting skeet, mind you've I've done it a whole two times in my life, but I truly adored it.

I didn't have a religious experience at the Grand Canyon, but I did at Montezuma's Castle at Mesa Verde. I know what you mean.

Posted by: Cele at November 4, 2007 7:22 PM

I have shot plenty of guns. . .but never at the clay pigeons. My daddy did though. . .and my job was to run out onto the shooting range when everyone was taking a break to locate the unshot ones that had not broken after plummeting to earth so we could stack 'em up and fling 'em again.

Good times.

And I much prefer rifles to shotguns. I'm bettin' you've got (or are in the process of getting) a lovely green bruise on your shoulder that does not match your autumnal sweater set in the least.

Posted by: Roxanne at November 4, 2007 7:47 PM

There are butterfly exhibits up here, too. Hmm, used to be sometimes one in Providence, and seasonally one in Newport (both RI) and at the Boston Museum of Science when we were there in the spring. But we also have butterflies all over what we call the "scrubby" in our yard, the wetland setback we cannot touch because it borders a stream we can't even really see but we can hear it. The butterflies love the scrubby, and so do the dragonflies, and they get so big they're practically prehistoric. The wings are iridescent loveliness, and I spend huge amounts of time thankful that I live with butterflies and dragonflies.

Once, a hummingbird hovered near the deck as my older son, about 2, and I picnicked on the deck while the baby napped in the sling. My son got to see it, too. I was so tired that new-baby summer, and so overwhelmed, and that hummingbird was such a gift. Talk about your spiritual moments.

Posted by: amy at November 4, 2007 8:30 PM

I love the "so improbable" re: the butterflies. I feel that way all the time. We were at the aquarium last month and were looking at the sea horses- leafy sea dragons, more specifically, and I thought- "really???"

Posted by: Laura at November 4, 2007 10:10 PM

I've been to the Butterfly Garden at Callaway many times, and I've seen their Birds of Prey show. I've not been skeet shooting, though.

Posted by: Terri at November 4, 2007 11:34 PM

I know that C.S. Lewis nad kicking... thing. Although I'm not getting the reference. Can you direct me to the correct passage in the right book so I understand?
I get the same thing about the Grand Canyon. Been there twice and it's....uhm, big. Impressive. But it's almost like looking at a photo - hard to "see" or perhaps "grok" in person. Now a redwood forest. There's the thing. Or maybe an art gallery. Or being present at a birth. Definitely.

Posted by: Laume at November 5, 2007 2:09 AM

You are just too cute.
You've convinced me that I definitely need to skeet shoot, and here I was all ready to drive into Lawrenceville and shoot machine guns at the Gun Shop.

Posted by: linda at November 5, 2007 11:52 AM

I too am unfamiliar with the passage about Mr. Lewis' nads. But ask me about Chronicles of Narnia - that I know! I love skeet shooting. Local high schools have got a great program going with their trap shooting teams. Wonderful opportunities for the children!

My kick in the nads experience is a mountain, any mountain. The steep and rocky walls of the Rockies, or the sloping, rolling, tree covered rounds of the Smokies. Ashville NC, is absolutely my favorite place. My roots run deep there.

Butterflies, yes, vultures, no. Although Vinnie does have a sort of a suave demeanor about himself. Is a vulture the same bird as a buzzard? We gots lots of buzzards in Tennessee! Never saw one that looked like Marty Feldman,though.

Posted by: Rhonda at November 5, 2007 11:59 AM

So I guess we can expect someone in your next book to have a pet vulture? Will he have cute outfits like the chicken?

But please don't shoot or eat it this time, okay? ; )

Posted by: Elizabeth at November 5, 2007 12:48 PM

Never, ever, EVER thought I'd see "CS Lewis" and "nads" in the same sentence. LOL. That LITERALLY made me laugh out loud!

Thanks, I needed that!

Posted by: City Girl at November 5, 2007 2:11 PM

Shooting guns puts you in the AWESOME MOM category . . . according to young boys. My son had no idea I knew how to shoot until I was roped into a Mom and Son Boy Scout weekend campout where they had the boys and moms 'learn' how to shoot. I'd never told my son I'd had a BB gun as a kid so he had NO IDEA his MOM was loaded for Boy Scout Bear . . . Whupping all their little boy butts by nailing those paper bulls eyes put me in a WHOLE NEW light.

Posted by: JeanEva at November 5, 2007 7:47 PM

You have a beautiful soul. Unusual, but beautiful. Wizened acorn my fanny. ;)

Posted by: Amy-Go at November 6, 2007 10:31 AM

I just have to know which gloss you wore. I know, I know, really great experiences, and all I've got is, "I MUST KNOW WHAT SHADE OF GLOSS SHE WORE!" Priorities, you understand.

Posted by: Coleen at November 6, 2007 10:34 AM

Now, that skeet shooting guy looks like someone who really enjoys his job. Wow!

Posted by: Trace at November 6, 2007 5:16 PM

I'm fairly certain that the C.S. Lewis reference is to the book Surprised by Joy, in which he talks about his conversion to Christianity, led by the experience of what he calls joy - not just pleasure, but that feeling of breathless wonder that Joshilyn describes so elegantly. I do not believe that the late Professor Lewis referred to his gonads at any time in that context - though he was occasionally capable of being quite earthy.

Posted by: Diane (TT) at November 8, 2007 11:09 AM

A couple of years ago my family dragged a reluctant me to a place called an Insectarium, which seemed like a bad idea on So Many Levels, and I was planning to sit out in the parking lot and read a book to save the price of my admission to the Bug Zoo. Then I found out they had a Butterfly House so I said, "What the heck?" and went in and was amazed and delighted. So I know whereof you speak.

I'm pretty sure Diane is correct in saying that CS Lewis talks about the experience of deep wonder and awe as a connection to the divine in "Surprised by Joy," but does not talk about his nads anywhere. The nads, that's all you.

Posted by: TrudyJ at November 9, 2007 6:42 AM