Just Larger

Thwapety, thwapety, thwap

Three seniors’ heads turn as one: not in the direction of the thwapping but in the direction of its path, as subconsciously projected. We had learned that lesson 65 years ago as pre-schoolers, hearing the engine roar behind us but looking ahead to see the jet.

Thwapety, thwapety, thwap

With nary a pause, a pre-school boy thwapped past us on the extended wooden ramp, clearly designed to enhance accessibility to the sort-of second-floor, “sort-of” because there really was no first floor. The part underneath was mostly stilts. All the business end of the building started at least 15 feet in the air, this Nature Center being equally clearly designed to withstand hurricane-induced flooding and tidal surges from the adjacent estuary.

But as I watched the thwapper’s mother run lightly after him, sans foot-powered sound effects, I wondered whether the ramp was really designed for people being pushed in wheelchairs, or pushing walkers, or just not pushing their knees or hearts on the available stairs. I wondered whether it was, at least in part, designed for the pre-school stage. If not, it was a happy coincidence that it offered such a splendid place to thwap.

I was standing with two people in my age cohort, but unknown to me. We had been discussing the wind damage to a boardwalk that used to stretch out and across the afore-mentioned estuary, and that now rested on it in pieces and at odd angles. Wind is a powerful force.

As are thwappers. As the small boy’s feet could be heard hitting the paved parking lot — THWAP — I moved to go and the man shook his head, ruefully.

I’d love to still have that energy.

I made my way down the rest of the ramp steadily but pretty much silently, and thought, “Radishes.”


Sometimes my subconscious is a bit terse, but yes, radishes.

As a grade-schooler, I had a conversation with a friend of my parents about radishes. Why were some so delightful and some so hot, I wondered. Ah, he said, their size was the key. They all had the same amount of heat in them: it was just diffused in the large ones, making them more palatable. Or more boring, depending on your point of view.

Was it true? I had (and have) no idea, but just in case I’ve avoided tiny radishes ever since.

Maybe we’re like radishes. Maybe we actually do have the same amount of energy as a pre-schooler, it’s just diffused through a larger space, larger in all senses. A larger body to power, certainly, but also a larger number of things to do. A larger number of things to remember, and memories to connect. A larger set of interests to manage, and thoughtful thoughts to think. A larger life experience to savour. I mean, of course we don’t thwap.

Could it be true? I have no idea, but just in case I think I’ll avoid regretting the apparent loss of what used to be.


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2 Responses to Just Larger

  1. barbara carlson says:

    I bet if one of those alligators was chasing you, you could thawp with the best of ’em.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – Hahaha. I bet I could, too. I’ve heard naturalists say they’re not a danger to adults; I read newspaper accounts that make me think differently, and keep my distance. Hurray for zoom lenses.

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