Judith Sutherland: Science and art: they grow together


“Remember always that you have not only the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one. You cannot make any useful contribution in life unless you do this.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

Over the years, it has been sheer joy to watch the individuals emerge from the children I helped bring into this world.
As little ones, Cort was the fun-loving, ornery one. Caroline was all sweetness and light.
Cort would reach out to total strangers in the grocery store to ask, “How ya doin’ today? What’s your name?” Caroline was shy around anyone new, though she would give her adorable smile to anyone as long as she was holding on to mom with one tight grip.
Cort was always the negotiator, trying to find a new way to do things. Caroline played by the rules.
Cort questioned enormous things way ahead of his chronological age, asking for a telescope to view the stars when he was only 7 years old. He asked about the concept of “light years” when he was 8 years old, and I had no idea how to answer him.
Caroline was the type of child who would wake up in the morning with a sleepy smile, asking for more quiet time so that she could play with her doll babies and stuffed animals before she greeted the real world. I would often hear her jabbering with her menagerie of little imaginary friends long before she emerged from her bedroom.
Cort loved Sesame Street and all sorts of action cartoons. Caroline could have quite easily lived without all that. She would pick up a book and pretend to read long before she ever could. She would often bring a book to me and curl up on my lap, ready for story-time.
Cort loved fishing with his “Papa Brooks” Ringler, telling me that digging for bait was “just the very most fun!” Caroline tagged along a time or two, and while she enjoyed the day, she didn’t beg to do this again anytime soon.
Years later. So, it has been interesting to watch these individual personalities continue to grow, expand, change and evolve.
Now that they are 18 and 16, the two of them have friends who love to gather here.
Just the other night, a group of kids met here to head to the annual BalloonFest held in our little town, as dozens of huge hot air balloonists gather here for the Fourth of July weekend.
Cort wasn’t feeling so great, so he and I headed for the comfy swing out near our backyard pool. It wasn’t long until we heard the unmistakable “whoosh” of fire from a hot air balloon ascending.
Soon after, a hot air balloon came into view, quite a ways away from us. Then we heard another, and this one came right over top of us, flying low enough that we could easily see the two people in the basket.
BalloonFest was coming to us!
This balloon was brilliant shades of various green, a beauty to behold. We waved to the pilot and copilot, and after waving back, they began ascending higher and higher in order to clear the trees to the south of us.
Still different. It was just like Cort to begin talking about the science of it all, speaking of winds aloft and other such things.
Caroline, had she been here, would have been thinking about the peace and tranquility to be found in a balloon basket, pointing out various colors and designs that caught her eye among the dozens of hot air balloons that floated right over top of us.
It is a reminder of the gifts of individuality that we are given. I intend to enjoy every unique nuance of the two children I have been blessed to have in my life. It is worth celebrating!

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