“Kings”of Our World

When you’re outside, do you ever outstretch your arms, lean your head back, and just breathe? 

Yesterday was grandma Wilma’s service. At one point, my uncle was at the altar telling stories about her life. He mentioned that when she was a girl, it was her job to help her Papa. When their chores were done, her “payment” was getting to run up the hill, outstretch her arms, and stand in the wind. 

I didn’t know that about her, and it struck me because it is something we have in common. Little Bit and I do that often. Sometimes when we’re out in our yard, we stop what we’re doing, we reach our arms out and simply listen. We hear the wind, we pay attention, we breathe. 

Why would anyone want to do such a silly thing? For me, several things come to mind. 

1. It makes you present. It puts you in that moment. Just picture it, standing still. How often does that even happen? 

2. Arms outstretched. The simple gesture of putting our arms out to our sides is such an offering. A surrender, even. A gift. It’s almost like handing over the sense of control, even if it’s just for 30 seconds. 

3. Head back, taking in the view. Eyes open or closed, it doesn’t really matter. 

4. A deep breath of nature. Lungs expand, nature is inhaled, then, nature is exhaled. Pretty darn relaxing. 

5. Sometimes, we add our signature phrase, belting it out as loudly as the moment warrants: “King of the world”. 

After the service, some of us went out to grandma’s farm. After being in the house awhile, Little Bit, my niece, and I needed some air. We hiked the hills, the same ones I’ve spent a lifetime on and that they have traipsed up in winters past with sleds in tow. 

There was no snow, so getting up the giant hill was a bit easier this time. When we arrived at the top, we decided to blow a kiss to grandma Wilma and we all blew big kisses at the same time. It was then that I introduced our tradition of “king of the world” to my niece. There we were, all three of us with our arms outstretched, giggling, and screaming out “king of the world.”

Just being up there was so great. Grandma used to climb those hills and breathe in that air. Geese were flying over our heads. From our spot, we could see the entire farm: the 100 year old barn, the apple and peach trees, her house, her barren  rose bushes, and the chicken house.

The thing I love most is that Grandma’s “payment” for chores lives on. Who knows, maybe someday when these kiddos grow up, they’ll recall standing on that hill with me, our arms out wide, the frosty air filling our noses, the giggles, and the freedom of childhood that we experienced on that lovely December day when we were the “kings” of our world. 

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