Simple acts can make big difference

Published 12:05 am Sunday, June 12, 2016

Just more than a week from now, something magical will happen in the skies overhead — and most of us won’t notice.

The longest day of the year will come and pass in an instant — precisely at 5:34 p.m., June 20.

The summer solstice this year was bumped around a bit thanks to the extra day brought on by the leap year. The longest day of the year is usually June 21.

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At that time, in the amazing harmony of the universe, the sun — at least for the northern hemisphere — will be at its farthest point north in relationship to the earth and thus the amount of daylight is at the maximum for the year.

A self-professed space nerd in my youth, the galactic ying and yang overhead remains a fascination.

Looking at my 3-year-old daughter and how amazingly fast she’s growing, learning and maturing, I’m convinced the world has somehow begun to spin faster.

Clearly, that’s not the case, but it seems like just yesterday, Julie and I were anxiously awaiting her arrival. Now, we’re amazed at how quickly the time has flown.

The longer summer hours also remind me of something of a little family tradition we started last year.

The former owners of our house obviously either had lots of time on their hands or paid a team of gardeners to keep the various flowerbeds looking spiffy.

We tend to them now very sporadically as time allows, except for two small spots in the backyard.

The first spot began as a gift for Julie, who has long been an admirer of large Gerber daisies. We removed a large, gnarly swath of Liriope, better known as monkey grass. In its place, we planted several Gerber daisies.

For a short period of time, I was beginning to wonder if our investment was money down the garden toilet as the Gerbers didn’t instantly flourish. With a little time, however, they began to produce flower after flower.

They’ve come back now for two additional years, surviving nicely in our short less-than-brutal winters.

Last year, we took over another small, nearby spot that had been filled with a sundry of various small shrubs and weeds. This time, we planted zinnias. Fortunately zinnias are flowers meant to be grown by newbies like us, so they did quite well and kept our kitchen filled with cut flowers all summer long.

This year, as spring began to pop out, the 3 year old’s mind began to spin — “What can we plant this year, Daddy?”

A special father-daughter trip to the hardware store later and we returned with fists filled with seeds.

The spot formerly filled completely with zinnias, now has a large patch of zinnias that sort of self-sowed themselves again this year.

The spot also contains several tomato plants, some carrots and some green peas.

Anna’s patience while the planting was under way was, well, the patience of a 3 year old.

Once slivers of green began surfacing above the dirt, her interest was piqued as much as it was by the myriad of colorful seed packets at the hardware store.

Weeks later, the small patch that had been barren dirt now teems with blooming zinnias and vegetables.

Whether or not any of our edible crops wind up actually being consumed is anyone’s guess, but the fun has been in watching the slow ballet that happens all around us.

Sadly, few of us often slow down long enough to realize the amazing nature around us.

The tiny computers inside the cell phones most of us clutch give us all the answers we could ever ask. The world’s knowledge is literally at our fingertips.

But real wonder, the kind that’s been handed down from generation to generation, comes when a tiny, dirt-covered finger drops a seed into the earth and later sees that simple act become something so much greater and more meaningful.

Throughout our lives, simple acts — whether planting a seed with a child, stopping to pause at the beautiful symmetry of the universe or just sharing happiness with those around us — can make such a huge difference. What small, but important acts will you do this week?


Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or