The Ripple Effect Sometimes Takes Time…

I have been thinking a lot about ripples and butterflies. This is an odd thing to ponder since I now have to drive at least an hour to see significant amounts of water. It doesn’t include the little creek that runs through our town, including our charming city park.

The water I saw yesterday was once an old town that is now at the bottom of a reservoir that is a local source for boating, waterskiing and the prerequisite: drinking.

Fortunately, the butterflies are everywhere here on the Ponderosa…. along with mountain lions, coyotes, eagles, owls and wild turkeys.  The deer are a given.  The elk visit and bed down occasionally much to their consternation and the delight of our elk sized dogs.

It is a world away from my former life where we lived on a private lake across from the country club we embraced.  Sunsets on the beach were mandatory and wonderful beyond words. There was one celebration of the hub’s birthday replete with friends, ritualistic beef burning and young kids running around.  At one point, a locally based hot air balloon came and dipped the lake before continuing on…   Once the kids stopped swallowing flies from their gaping jaws, they looked at me in awe, thinking I had orchestrated this feat.  How could I disappoint them with the truth?

Everyone should experience being a minor deity in the collective consciousness of five and six year olds.  It shouldn’t last, but it is a GREAT wave to ride for a short, special moment in time.

The “butterfly effect” is a chaos theory based on the sensitive dependence of initial decisions.  Small changes trigger large changes.  The thought for the name comes from  the theory that a butterfly flapping its wings half a world away can be the beginning of a hurricane.

Ever have a day when, looking back, you just should have stayed in bed?  The butterfly effect works in a non-sectarian environment.  Good or bad.  Either way, the Monarch has flapped its wings….

The “ripple effect” is dropping the old pebble into the pond; an initial state which can be followed outward incrementally.  In sociologic terms, social interactions can affect situations not directly related.  The ripples continue on regardless.

The butterfly took a drink of water from the pond after the pebble kerplunked in this particular instance…

My mother grew up in a small town in southwestern Minnesota.  She had seven brothers and she was the second oldest.  Her only older sibling, Uncle Bob, is alive and well at 92 and as ornery as ever (in a good way).  He still lives on the lake has lived on in the house that he and my grandfather built together a long time ago.  There, he and my Aunt Ardis raised three kids, hosted lots of family reunions and taught me how to make home made ice cream.   It is typical of Bob and Ardis to open their homes unconditionally.  I learned to swim on that lake and my cousin, Suzie, and I spent many an hour canoeing hither and yon. However, the fishing experience didn’t turn out well.

At some point in time in the early 1960s, Uncle Bob and Aunt Ardis decided to host an exchange student.  The cosmic lottery sent a young man from Japan to his new home off the beaten path in Minnesota farm country from the mega metropolis of Tokyo for a year.

The young man attended the local high school, participated in gymnastics and track, made friends, and attends his reunion every five years to this day.  He also learned how to ice skate, shovel snow, go camping, and paddle a canoe.

I knew nothing of this for many years.  I was too young and lived too far away.  But the name of this young man would come up in conversation and family gatherings.   Uncle Bob and his family remained in contact with this gentleman throughout life and do so to this day.  When Aunt Ardis passed away, this young man, now a father himself and well established in the Japanese diplomatic world, made a special pilgrimage to her grave from four thousand miles away.

That is where the synchronicity of life shines its light once again.

Thirty something years later, I gave birth to our daughter.  When she was very little, and on a whim, I purchased a VHS (yes, THAT long ago) copy of “My Neighbor Totoro”.  It is made in a specific genre of animation called “anime” by a well known director, Hayao Miyazaki.  (For those of us who remember, “Speed Racer” was an anime cartoon.)

The film is filled with whimsy and fantasy as well as having its roots in Japanese mythology.  To say my daughter was entranced doesn’t even begin to describe those early ripples.  By age four, she was asking for Miyazaki’s films in Japanese with English subtitles and began to teach herself the language with this technique.  I think all the sushi I fed her was also a factor.

As she grew older, she discovered and made friends with similar kids with a devoted interest in Japan, the language and the culture.  When we uprooted ourselves from our deep midwestern and urban roots, one of the ways she coped was to ask for, and receive, a summer of immersion in a Japanese language camp.

She came home in bliss.  She had found her “homies”.  It was no different than when I landed in Ireland the first time and realized I wasn’t weird, just born in the wrong place.

Time passed.  Aunt Ardis passed away and the young gentleman from the sixties came and honored her grave.  He kept contact all these years…  Now a father and grandfather himself, he still had deep and abiding feelings for Bob and Ardis and their family.

My daughter’s passion for all things Japanese did not abate, but rather increased with time.  It was almost a national holiday in our world when a sushi restaurant opened in the “big” city 40 miles away.  We are among their best customers….

Flash forward to this summer.  It is the summer between her junior and senior year of college with graduate programs looming large.  Her talents in art, computer and the Japanese language continue to serve her well.  She returned this week from eleven weeks of coursework in Tokyo and the adventure of a lifetime.

My cousin reminded me of the connection.  This gentleman was kind enough to meet my daughter in Tokyo, despite his rigorous schedule and diplomatic duties.  They met a  couple of times and the links in the chain continue.

My uncle is busting his buttons with pride.

Fifty years ago, he is the one who dropped the pebble and startled a butterfly into flight.  One just flew past my window.  Who knows where and when it will land?

God Bless, Uncle Bob.

About marysigmond

After four generations in Chicago, a big city transplant to the "wild west" of western South Dakota in 2004. Mom, domestic goddess, CEO of my world and fond of musing about what is becoming the second half of my life. It's a big old goofy world.
This entry was posted in Finding Normal, From Where I Live, Oddities and Amusements. Bookmark the permalink.

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