I immediately blame the two-year-old when a mystery poop appears during naked sun time. I lift Ziggy to inspect his butt and can’t help but smile at my baby’s first wild poop.
I am happily frazzled and a little disturbed because he pooped on the rock he was sitting on to dip his toes in the creek. My memorization of the 7 Leave No Trace principles rattles off in my head, “bury human waste at least 200 feet from any water source.”
Unprepared, I start wiping my son’s ass with soft green leaves. Then we pick up the poop with more leaves, walk 70 strides away, and dig a hole with a stick.
Ziggy loves the digging part, and pride wells inside of me. We place the poop and leaves in the spot, mix it around, ask the microbes to break down this waste quickly, then re-fill the hole with dirt and tears of joy.
But poop wasn’t really supposed to be the key theme of my Mother’s Day. Quite the opposite, really. My son and I wandered the forest, hunting for manzanita blossoms. The peculiar pink bells bundle together to form clumps of dangling delight. After a mild winter in California, this is the only spring color.
I once ignored this plant until the flowers turned to berries, but Ziggy is obsessed. He discovered them on a mountain bike break a few days back. After he picked and sniffed it, I told him he could munch them, so he did, and now “more flowers” is one of his religiously spoken sentences.
When we got home, I curiously consulted “Living Wild,” a book about gardening with native California plants, and found a recipe for manzanita blossom jelly.
So, Ziggy and I set out to the forest with two mason jars and filled them by riding our mountain bike and picking a few flowers off each bush we passed. After filling two jars, we hurried home to do Ziggy’s other favorite activity with Mama- cooking.
We blissfully boiled flowers and reveled in their fragrance, which was so bright and a scent I had never noticed walking through our dry forest. We filled sterilized jars with the sticky aroma of spring flowers and capped and sealed them to keep them in the pantry.
After a day that couldn’t have been better, we took the dog on his nightly poop walk. As we passed Manzanita bushes, I couldn’t believe how much more I noticed their lovely scent. After interacting with the plant, I realized my connection to them deepened, and I appreciated them more.
Much like my son’s poops. The waft of the diaper pail can be strong when I walk by it. But changing his diaper is oddly satisfying and something I cherish. It just plain feels good to care for another living thing.