Lynna Clark: Everyday field trips

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 3, 2016

The first real field trip I remember as a kid was in the sixth grade. We went to the Biltmore House and it was magnificent! We explored every inch of the house and grounds. I remember daddy laughing when he came to pick me up late that afternoon. He commented to my mom how frazzled my poor teacher looked. To me it was the best trip ever as she had allowed us to roam the gardens freely as long as we minded our manners. I cared nothing for the rooms behind the velvet ropes. Just please turn me loose in the vast expanse of blooming azaleas which were higher than my fuzzy red head. I remember gaining a height advantage by peering over the rails of one of the upper porticos down to the lovely grounds. It took my breath away. All sorts of specimens bloomed making patterns only visible from above. An elderly groundskeeper must’ve noticed my wonder. He came along side me there and pointed out a silent visitor across the way. A beautiful young doe fed amongst the blossoms. She lifted her head as though feeling our eyes then went back to her banquet. The picture was postcard worthy and I’ve never seen anything like it since. Something about that moment reminds me now and then to snap a shot in my mind that I can revisit on demand.

Through the years many such snapshots remain. Currently while I’m too weak to travel everyday field trips become little postcards. Like the other day when our grandson Able laughed so big with his Poppy that they both had tears. Who knows what that was about. When you’re four everything your grandfather says is funny. I took a picture with my phone which turned out fuzzy. But the one in my head is as clear as day and it comes with audio. Nothing can turn off that laughter or those smiles.

I don’t want to wear out my cancer card, so I hesitate to tell you some of how it feels. But in case it will help you deal with someone else you know who’s going through it, part of the process is feeling so disconnected. Don’t get me wrong, folks have been so gracious and kind, checking on us at every turn. But for me, the things I used to do to be a useful member of society are no longer on the table. I’m so weak. If I can manage a day without tossing my cookies, it’s a good day. I don’t feel like having visitors or really even phone calls. David fields those for me. I try to answer emails and Facebook messages, but that’s the extent of my strength. It turns out I really am a delicate flower.

But something we try to do as I’m able is an everyday field trip. Once a day, I put on my hat, David takes my hand and we walk to the mailbox. I can always count on Time Warner Cable to send a little note my way. Bless their hearts. But nearly every day some other kind soul has taken the time to find a card, write a note, buy a stamp and send a word just to let me know they’re aware of the struggle which has so thoroughly consumed my life. It feels amazing to know that someone cared that much. I know how hard that is. That’s why I rely on Facebook to message them back. I cannot keep a stamp in this house. The other day I got a postcard from a lady I’ve never met who is a friend of my daughter. Her family was vacationing in Banff, Canada. A golden sky behind purple mountains reflected beautifully in a quiet lake. It reminded me of Asheville and it made me happy to be prayed for from there.

As we turn from the roadside mailbox the snapshot before us is less than picture perfect. I’m not in Asheville anymore. But it’s an image worth keeping too. As my beloved mom-in-law says often, “It won’t always be this way.” One day when I’m well it will be good to have this image available for recall too. It will remind me of all the kindnesses sent my way when I was too weak to fight. As if looking down from a place with a higher vantage I will remember what it meant to be thought of and prayed for every day, even by strangers. Hopefully I will do the same for others.

PS: That same evening my sweet daddy snapped a shot at Lake Norman where he lives and sent it to me to enjoy. Best field trip ever!

Lynna Clark lives in Salisbury. Read more at Lynna’s Wonderful Life at

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