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The Gift of Reading

Another Way for week of November 30, 2018

The Gift of Reading

Editor’s Note: First in a two-part series on reading, and the benefits of reading to children at a young age. Next week we’ll have a bookmark giveaway listing “Top 35 Books for Young Children.”

My first memories of books are the “Sally, Dick and Jane” early reader books my sisters brought home from school and read to me. I thought it was cool they could read, and couldn’t wait to go to school so I could learn to read too.

As I look now at the abundance of books my grandchildren have, and even back at the quite ample collection we had for our daughters, I’m somewhat shocked that we didn’t have more books than we did in my home growing up. We had a book of Bible stories that a salesman going door to door sold as a sample—I think—but Mom and Dad never bought the whole set. We also later got a complete set of Compton’s Encyclopedias. We devoured those books and wrote many a school assignment from them.

There was also a “Children’s Hour” story book with thick pages—simple fiction with morals that Mom would also use when she led children’s story time at church. We also had some Golden books, Black Beauty and of course, Pilgrim’s Progress.

My husband has fond memories from a set of books his parents bought their family called “My Book House,” (edited by Olive Beaupre Miller, England, 1920s), with archaic looking illustrations. He treasures those old books, some very mildewed.

I also have a heart wrenching book called Beautiful Joe: An Autobiography, written by “a dog” that was horribly mistreated. It was an early crusader book (1893) for the prevention of cruelty to animals, penned by Marshall Saunders.

Beautiful Joe was a real dog who was rescued and given to a beautiful family. I don’t think I could bear to read the first part to my own grandchildren. This book was given to one of my aunts, Mabel Miller, from her teacher at Pointer School in LaGrange Indiana, Harold Stroman. Mabel had appendicitis when she was 11 and I’m guessing that the teacher gave this as a get-well gift. Mabel later died at the age of 18 from the flu epidemic of 1918.

Those were different times but from a Washington Post article by Amy Joyce, I learned that even in today’s U.S., “fewer than half of children under the age of 5 are read to daily by a parent.” Regina Wenger, a doctoral student in history at Baylor, recently wrote a moving and inspiring essay, “Why Read” published in The Mennonite and online. She points out that reading is not only crucial for survival and succeeding in life (indeed, longevity increases in places where illiteracy rates are coming down), but reading “cultivates empathy and perspective.” My picture of the peoples in those places and other times has expanded monumentally from fiction based in South Africa, India, the former Yugoslavia, France and Belgium during World War II, even ordinary life during the Civil War here in Virginia.

Wenger also reminds us that reading slows us down and requires deeper cognition: “Especially in a world that communicates in 280-character statements, books compel us to take the long view and remember that words have power.”

Nancy Myers is a woman who I mainly know through Facebook and her blog, although she went to the same high school I did about six years ahead of me. I admire her work in Congo, Africa, helping women learn to read. She was involved helping train Congolese women as literacy workers so they can train others. The women’s enthusiasm for their work is truly exemplary—walking miles and risking personal safety to get to the trainings. This literacy work means that women and girls in this part of Africa will have options besides an early marriage and remaining uneducated their whole lives. The world’s literacy rate is gradually growing but there are still between 600-700 million in the world who cannot read. (Find Nancy’s blog at The Practical Mystic.)

Next week I will share a great list of favorite books for children collected by some of my readers and friends on Facebook, just in time for Christmas shopping for kids you know.


What do you do with books you no longer have room for on your shelves? One friend from church invited many of us to take things–free–from her overloaded shelves as she downsized a few years ago. I treasure this book, and this note!

What were your favorite books as a child? Comment here, or send memories to or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.




Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  


It’s Just Stuff! – Guest column by Dorcas Headings Beachy

The author’s house, in the weeks following the storm. Dorcas writes: “The vista that we see now is affecting us. Our feelings are not the greatest at this time. It is stripped and bare, brown and dying, nothing looks right. our whole area will be this way for a while.” Photo courtesy of the author’s father, Merle.

Another Way for week of November 23, 2018

It’s Just Stuff!

Guest column by Dorcas Headings Beachy

Editor’s Note: In the weeks immediately following Hurricane Michael in north Florida, Dorcas Beachy, a friend from Melodie Davis’s Florida days, wrote about surviving the storm and aftermath.

“I am 63 years young and throughout my years I have heard the material things of this world described as ‘just stuff.’ Naked I came into this world, and naked I will depart, goes the scripture.

“Our days before the storm were like this: Day 1—A strong storm is coming our way. Day 2—I get ready, as I always do, with food, water, batteries, books. Day 3—The path towards us hasn’t changed and I along with my parents, husband, and sister-in-law go thru Hurricane Michael. A category 5 storm (worst possible) at the coast and category 3 at our homes.

“I headed into Day 3 thinking it won’t be bad, it never has been. We live too far from the coast to be scared. Somewhere along 1 p.m. I saw the first tree fall. It missed our house, then the dominoes of falling trees began: endless wind and cracking of wood. We could smell the pine inside as it broke outside. I suddenly understood, my life as I enjoyed it was going to be changed. I removed myself to a quiet place and cried. BAM! went a tree as it tore through our attic roof. I cried some more and prayed it would stop. It didn’t stop until 4:30.

“Seeing the aftermath of Michael that afternoon is something I and others will never forget. The crisscrossing of huge trees on our driveway, three trees angling out of roofs, my parents seeing the damage to their place, my sister-in-law borrowing my husband’s bicycle to try to ride to her home and see if it was still there, finding part of our neighbor’s roof in our woods.

“Now it’s been a few days. We have tried to contain all the damaged areas. We have a building that’s two-thirds a shop for Milton and one-third a playroom for our grandchildren. It is filled with our kid’s stuff from their growing up years. Milton had to tell me the tree sticking through the roof damaged the whole building and I need to empty out the playroom before the next rain.

“I have tried to not even look at the outside, tried to sleep in the heat with ringing in my ears. I have forgotten to eat and haven’t bathed in five days. I decided it was easier to “GO” outside then dealing with “GOING” inside. I worry about my parents and the damage they sustained. I search for yet another towel to clean, mop, or dry wet things with. I bag up household trash, spoiled food, dirty laundry and put the bags in the back of the pick-up and watch as the pile gets bigger.

“Is it just stuff? NO! It is my life and while I can live without a lot and scale down if I have to, my stuff is important to me. I, we, will be okay. Family, friends and strangers help us all.

The backside of the author’s home, now decorating for Christmas even while they await a new roof. (Photo courtesy of the author’s father, Merle.)

“In week 4 post-storm, the combat-boot-camp-of-living has changed to electricity-is-good!-but-I-still-don’t-want-to-look-outside. Things are better. Our driveway was impassible, so that is what we addressed the first morning. My husband Milton, began cutting up massive amounts of tangled pines with a chainsaw while Dad and I were supposed to move the logs to the side. We started with an overwhelming feeling: we can’t do this alone, it will take we three a long time! Suddenly a John Deere mini-tractor came down the road. On it were Mattie and her husband; complete strangers to us. They stopped at our drive and said, “We hear you need some help.” They proceeded to push with their tractor’s front-end loader all the way back to Dad’s house, around 600 feet. We still don’t know how they knew to come our way.

“My sister-in-law, Pam, who rode out the storm with us, lives nearby in a trailer. She and we thought there was no way her home could have lasted the blast of Michael. She made her way there by bicycle and returned to tell us her trees were down and a terrible mess but her home was okay except for some roof damage. The stuff in our 10 by 20’ outbuilding playroom was not damaged and filled with toys for kids. I decided to go through all those memories and keep some, give some to our children, and donate the rest. I was in the grocery store and heard a lady talk of the local Kid’s Kingdom daycare. It had been damaged and they needed kid things. I asked where the place was and went the next day with a miniature wooden kitchen set, puzzles, kid-sized table and chairs and more. It turned out to be the former Oak Terrace Mennonite Church, the church I attended from cradle to 18 years old. What I thought I couldn’t give up is now being used daily by children in a place that holds lots of wonderful memories for me.”


I was touched by Dorcas’s story—especially the mention of the church where I too was deeply influenced the year and several summers I lived there. All those recovering from this disaster—along with hundreds of thousands around the world at various stages—have been helped by numerous outpourings of help from friends, family and strangers. Recovery takes years. We pray for all going through turmoil at this time of year.


Update: Many families are waiting for new roofs or repairs–reliable contractors have long lists, and church-related disaster relief organizations are not allowed to help those receiving insurance for their damage. So patience and faith keep folks going. Please join me in praying for patience and love for so many families!


Your own storm stories from recent times or longer ago? Send to or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

Never Give Up

Another Way for November 16, 2018

Never Give Up

Videos on YouTube or Facebook range from crazy and hilarious, to tear tugging. A recent viral video of a young bear cub climbing an almost vertical mountain face spells courage and persistence like no other. Some viewers said they almost couldn’t watch.

First we see the mother bear struggling across a snowy precipice, her cub trying to follow and mostly failing. Mama has her own troubles navigating, sliding backwards down the slope for awhile. Finally she reaches an angle that must have been slightly less steep, because once she gets going on it, she endures until she reaches the top.

Most of us as mothers or parents would be frantic up there at the top of the mountain watching our cub struggle to make it; she must be strongly tempted to venture back down. She paces, checking over the edge, and we even see her swing out one paw. Perhaps the bear likely knows from instinct or experience that if she went down to help the cub, she would be helpless, really. She barely made it up herself.

And indeed the young cub, after a long long backward slide even further down, gets back up to where his mother has left some pretty good tracks, and proceeds to conquer that mountain and rejoin his mother. Mama quickly moves on, with the cub trouncing behind. The video was reportedly taken by a drone in some remote Russian mountains. An article in The Atlantic (online) indicated that from the behavior of the bears, scientists are pretty sure the bears were fearful of the drone flying so near. They speculate that the mama bear’s paw swipe was likely at the noisy drone, not for her cub. This revelation made me just plain sad. (Search online for “Little bear slipping down the hill.”)

But a larger theme of “never give up” pulls through the video, reminding me of the unforgettable “Climb Every Mountain,” rousing solo by Mother Superior in the Sound of Music musical. It was the first movie I ever went to see—because our church at the time didn’t permit going to theaters. But the movie was deemed a spiritual experience of sorts and a group of us girls went. Even though the words of the song may be cliché, when you’re facing a mountain in your life, it can certainly be a nudge to keep going, like the cub.

The applications to human life are obvious. Struggles with grief, employment, finding direction for life, or difficult relationships, come to mind. I know a young man struggling with drug addiction, after trying multiple times to go through treatment programs. I would call this the mountain of many in our culture today and around the world, and it is so very difficult and sad. The various pulls of drugs are both mental and physical—in this young man’s case a struggle with bipolar; other mental or physical illnesses may be involved in some addictions. Again I think of that cub, going determinedly for his goal, and wish and pray with all my heart that my friend could get to the top of his difficulty as well—and stay there.

In a different vein, I remember a tough professional mountain I had to climb. In the early 2000’s our organization bit off a huge project, and I was called on to serve as writer for a string of documentaries that aired on national TV. The first one was called Journey Toward Forgiveness. I felt intimidated but wanted to try. While I had written many scripts, books, columns and an assortment of TV and radio spots before, it was a new experience to help research and interview potential documentary participants, rough out a preliminary direction, and then follow up putting a script together out of dozens of video interviews and hundreds of pages of conversation.

Looking up at the mountain, it looked insurmountable. But as with many projects, you put one foot in front of another and keep plugging away and you get there—sometimes with the help and feedback of others. Challenging? Yes. But I wouldn’t have missed that mountain for an easier job.

This reminds me also of the tremendous journeys the various persons in our documentaries were on—such as forgiveness, family survivors after suicide, dealing with mental illness or drug addiction—and their courage in telling those stories. I’ve kept up with a few of those persons on Facebook and am overjoyed that at least the ones on Facebook have not slid back down the mountains they encountered. Their stories changed me also. Amazing courage.


How does the little bear and mama video make you feel?

What mountain(s) are you facing?

I’d love to hear.

Comment here or send your story to .

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

A Gathering of Sisters: A Year with My Old Order Mennonite Family

Another Way for week of November 9, 2018

A Gathering of Sisters

Darla Weaver is an Old Order wife, mother, expert gardener, and author. She and her husband have three children, but she grew up in a family of five sisters and four brothers. The sisters all live in the hills of southeastern Ohio near her parents’ house where they grew up.

Darla and her sisters have the marvelous tradition of spending each Tuesday with their mother (their father joins them for lunch, from his work in their home-based greenhouse). And the little ones of these sisters absolutely love Tuesdays before they begin formal education (usually from age six through grade eight in typical Old Order or Amish parochial schools), playing on the farm with cousins, eating, and “reading” books in their grandmother’s “library.”

I had edited a previous book of Darla’s, a devotional called Water My Soul. When she happened to mention this unusual gathering to me—spending all day each Tuesday with her sisters, mother, and their younger children—what came to my mind was Mitch Albom’s unforgettable book Tuesdays with Morrie. What if Darla would write something like “Tuesdays with Mom.” She pretty much jumped at the chance—while also presenting the idea to her mother and sisters. Would they be willing to be put under a microscope and have their weekly conversations, activities, joys, triumphs, as well as the skirmishes of their children shared with the entire world?

I think it took some processing with her family—especially the spouses—but Darla has now produced a delightful new book. Eventually the Herald Press team decided on Gathering of Sisters: A Year with My Old Order Mennonite Family as the title, and it is an inside, detailed look at the daily Old Order life of one extended family.

Darla uses a typewriter to write, so we took her pages and used special software to scan them into files the computer could read. Darla writes with a self-deprecating bent, with jokes about her cooking, and consternation over the new silicon cupcake “papers” that are lovely until it comes time to individually wash those modern cupcake holders, which frequently seem to turn up when it’s Darla’s turn to wash. And oh yes, no one can remember who washed the dishes last Tuesday. The children get into tangles the mothers try to sort out, and there’s an extended thread about a brother getting married in another state and chartering a bus to get the whole family there.

In September of the year her youngest son Matthan starts school, Darla reflects on the near universal ache parents feel as their children first scamper off to school: “When Cody (oldest son) went to the store to buy a pair of shoes, he came home with elevens. What’s more, they were the right size. Those were not the feet that fit so snug into the palm of my hand, or when I helped him begin to walk, just the day before yesterday or so. Now even Matthan had grown up and gone to school. The last lingering bits of babyhood always vanish forever in that first-grade aura.”

So Darla arrives at her mom’s on Matthan’s first day of school, no children in tow. She has to kick open a stubborn door. Her mother teases her that she “looked so old, coming up the hill without any children along. One sister chimed in smiling, ‘You looked almost like a grandma with your children all in school.’ They were all smiling so I smiled too—so wonderful is the consolation of sisterly sympathy that I cheered right up” (p. 199-200, Herald Press).

I grew up with two sisters and a little brother and even though our “modern” Mennonite family was much smaller, the community of siblings and especially sisters is something to treasure—even when we tease each other or become downright irked at times. Darla’s strong faith runs through her book, bringing moments of reflection amid both momentous and ordinary days.

Perhaps someone you know would enjoy this book for a Christmas gift or anytime. I’m snagging several for loved ones as well!


Many of us wish we lived close enough to loved ones to gather weekly like Darla and her sisters and family. What traditions for gathering have you managed, even if not as often as you would wish? 


For more about Darla’s new book Gathering of Sisters, check here, or write to me and I’ll send you information by regular mail. Send your request to or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.

Beloved Memories of Mexico Beach, Fla.

Another Way for week of October 26, 2018

My sister Pert and I riding waves at Mexico Beach circa 1970.

Beloved Memories of Mexico Beach      

To be honest it wasn’t that much of a beach to begin with but it was “our” beach, only 38 miles or so from my home in the panhandle of Florida back in 1969. We could whip down there on a Saturday afternoon after chores were finished or even after church on Sunday and enjoy a few hours relaxing, swimming, jumping waves, walking the beach, enjoying a sunset.

For a girl from landlocked Indiana (except for Indiana dunes on Lake Michigan, another lovely spot), it was a dream come true, and one of the main reasons, truth be told, I was willing to move to Florida for my senior year of high school. My parents had offered several times to let me finish out high school at Bethany Christian school I had gone to in northern Indiana for three years, where I had the best of friends. There would have been aunts I could have lived with. But I was gung ho to move, and the beach had a lot to do with it. An early visit there the spring of 1969 drew me with the constancy of waves lapping on sand. My grandmother went with us on that trip and burned her ankles (the only space exposed to the sun with her long dress) as we walked the shore.

I now live five hours from the beaches in Virginia distance-wise, but we’ve never attempted to make a day trip out of it—always overnight, always heavy heavy traffic (especially in recent years) getting there. Getting to Mexico Beach was an easy drive on back roads straight and smooth—the biggest danger going home was drifting off to sleep after a half day of the warm and beautiful Gulf of Mexico.

My friend Deb and sister Pert at Mexico Beach 1970.

So we loved it and had many a family picnic there on Fourth of July or Labor Day or anytime we needed a getaway. The original facilities were a simple Florida wayside park with sturdy cement picnic tables, benches, and shelters, and a place to change and shower off. We sometimes set up makeshift tents with poles and sheets in the sand, long before canopies for such purposes came on the scene. Eventually a brother-in-law owned a small catamaran sailboat on which we had plenty of adventures. A close friend from my class in Indiana visited after we both graduated high school and we spent several days relaxing and sunning on the secluded beachfront which midweek was almost empty. I remember one nearby store where one could get snacks, drinks, suntan lotion.

A small local restaurant at a north Florida beach in Feb. 2010. My mother, brother Terry, and sister Nancy. They’re laughing because my brother was carrying Mom’s purse for her.

In the last 40 years Mexico Beach (year-round population still only around 1000) has of course been built up with hotels, beach stores, condominiums, beach houses, the works. All these things supplied much needed jobs and opportunities for folks living in nearby counties, where making a living has always been a lot of hard work and long commutes to either Tallahassee or Panama City for better paying openings. As a college student, one summer I drove one hour to work at a restaurant on the Panama City beach, sometimes staying over at a home where an elderly man had advertised a room in exchange for help cooking as he cared for his wife dying of cancer.

The videos, photos and aerial shots from Mexico Beach after Hurricane Michael are devastating and shocking. Sure, hurricanes hit every year, somewhere, and this was ground zero. My brother, who lives in a nearby county, said it was disorienting to drive around because you couldn’t recognize things. They rode out the storm but would have evacuated if the upgrading of the storm to a “4” instead of a “3” had come earlier.

My brother and some of his family on the beach, Feb. 2010.

Recovery from massive storms and floods takes patience, time, and lots of help from all around. Help can never be distributed evenly or fairly—but as my brother said, with neighbors and family, they’re getting by. The downed trees and devastated homes and businesses will take months and years to clean up. If you can help, check out opportunities from Mennonite Disaster Service, Brethren Disaster Service, Presbyterian Disaster Service being three I know about first hand. They funnel volunteers, supplies and monetary gifts to those in need—rebuilding for years after storms. God bless and guide and grant safety to all those helping their neighbors, and strangers helping strangers.

Update: I was pleased to hear at least one local school resumed having classes just yesterday (Nov. 1) even though many homes do not yet have electricity restored. You can follow a Facebook group, Calhoun Strong for photos and updates and information regarding recovery efforts and indeed—neighbors telling neighbors where they can find help.

Mexico Beach, 2010.


If you want to help out as rebuilding goes on for years, here are three church organizations which will likely be sending workers, and they can always use funds:

Mennonite Disaster Service at or this address: 583 Airport Road, Lititz PA 17543.

Brethren Disaster Ministries, or here: Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Avenue, Elgin IL  60120.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance , or here: P.O. Box 643700, Pittsburgh, PA, 15264-3700.

My email is or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834. Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  





Everybody Clean Up

Three visiting dogs + our dog = 4 dogs in a house. It went fine!

Another Way for week of October 18, 2018

Everybody Clean Up

If you have children or grandchildren in daycare, preschool, kindergarten or Sunday school, they probably know the “clean up” song:

Clean up, clean up, everybody clean up, time to clean up!
Pick up, everybody pick up, everybody pick up, time to pick up!
Pick up the toys, put them away, Pick up the blocks, put them away, Pick up the books, put them away! Put your things away!

If you don’t know the tune, you can easily find it on YouTube. Caution: it will be in your head for the rest of the day.

I use it today as a light-hearted way to get into the serious topic and sad work of cleaning up and rebuilding after natural disasters. This summer and fall it seems the news has been filled with almost constant warnings and then aftermath of cyclical storms. Earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia. Typhoon in the Philippines and surrounding areas. Wildfires in California. Flooding in Japan and mudslides. And now this week as I write this, Hurricane Michael hitting Florida so very hard. More about that next week.

On the 24-news cycle, we are bombarded through various media and constant warnings, updates, downgrades of storms, and local reports of how the water, toilet paper, and batteries are flying off the shelves at the local big box store.

Our houseguests for the duration of Hurricane Florence, mapping their return trip to jobs and responsibilities. Deciding on the best route was not easy either.

Meanwhile areas affected by hurricanes or flooding in 2016 and 2017 and even further back are still living with the aftereffects.

During Hurricane Florence that threatened the East Coast in mid-September, some of my extended family followed evacuation orders in their area and came and stayed with me and my husband, about a seven-hour drive away.

I felt the anguish and turmoil of seasonal storms in a new way, especially as they tried to travel back to jobs and uncertain conditions. Since that time, they have been involved in helping a co-worker clean up as her home was inundated by waters and other storm damage. This on top of their normal jobs that include long hours, with stressful and anxious conditions. Not easy. I know this co-worker appreciated the clean-up help of her friends immensely.

Since my husband retired, he has been moved and challenged by going with two teams working at rebuilding after flooding in nearby West Virginia and North Carolina. During Hurricane Florence, he kept thinking of these very needy areas who have so little. He hopes to do more as health permits. I know that these hands-on experiences are invaluable in bringing the plight of individuals to our consciousness.

Those who don’t live in areas prone to flooding or hurricanes (I pick these disasters because they are the most common for those of us in the U.S.) may say, why not just move? Some indeed do move, but for many it is the area where they have lived for decades, where they have family, jobs and friends. Friends and family do indeed help with the “Everybody clean up” duties and rebuilding. But in areas where poverty is rampant and folks have their own homes, yards, and businesses to clean up, it is essential for outside helpers to bring healing and hope by volunteering when you can or are able.

I know a family who took four months out of their normal work and lives this summer to move to Puerto Rico and establish a new base for rebuilding homes with Mennonite Disaster Service from Hurricane Maria in 2017 on that island, so hard hit. You can read about their challenges and extreme heat, as well as joys and successes at her blog, (At her blog, type “Puerto Rico” in the search bar and you’ll get most of her entries from their four months of work as they helped build a beautiful small block home for a survivor.)

I’ll continue this thread next week. Meanwhile, genuine prayers and sympathy go out to all those whose lives and homes have been touched or ravaged by storms and disasters.


Have you been affected by storms this summer or fall? I’ll say more about Hurricane Michael next week and meanwhile we’d love to hear your stories.


A great place to help through donations or volunteering is Mennonite Disaster Service at or this address: 583 Airport Road, Lititz PA 17543.




To contact me privately, my email is or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  



Lean on Me

Another Way for week of October 12, 2018

Lean on Me: Two Boys and Two Grandparents’ Adventure at the Zoo

Have you ever gone on an adventure unsure if you were up to the task? Maybe a zipline, a whitewater trip, or perhaps a jump with a parachute?

More to the point: Are two sixty-somethings in good enough shape to keep up with two brothers under five at the great zoo in our nation’s capital? Without getting lost on the Metro?

As a college student, I lived in a large city one year and learned the basic patterns and tricks to navigating a city’s metro or subway system—such as standing on the correct side of a boarding platform to get the correct train, and walking to the far end of the train or platform depending on which side of the block you hope to come up on at your destination. This day our main goal was just to travel safely and not lose any boys.

Had we landed in the right train? The Metro map was too far away for me to read, and I hesitated to head there for fear the boys would want to follow me. A fellow traveler seemed approachable (not rush hour) so I asked him if our train stopped at Metro Center where we could get the Red line to the zoo. It turned out the young man has sons the ages of our grandsons and he assured us this train indeed did stop at Metro Center, and how many stops to count off.

They were happier than they looked here. At the end of our adventure, we finally got to the zebra!

Washington’s Smithsonian National Zoo (free admission!) is a large and lovely park with plenty of almost natural habitat for the exotic animals to roam or swim or fly with relative freedom. The long paths winding through it on a sunny, hot day make little boys and older people a little tired and sometimes whiney, let’s just say. But at least the boys didn’t have long lists of animals on their “must see” lists: just swimming seals, zebras, and elephants.

We would have done well to study maps and guides to the park ahead of time: It had been 25 years or more since we’d visited when our own girls were a good age for it. We asked a volunteer for help and he ended up leading us to several destinations. Youngsters tend to get off track when they want to explore every little knob that twists, or exhibit door that lifts—and forget the big animals they really came to see.

Managing bathroom breaks, requests for drinks, and finally lunch (with one gluten-free child) were additional challenges (we brought our own but there were snack shops in the park). We found a shady area where two Spanish-speaking mothers were chatting and enjoying their littles (a nine-month-old, a two-month-old, and perhaps another child, not sure). I’m sure they got more out of their time spent together—a chance to get out on that sunny morning—than their children got out of the zoo! Which is maybe the point of some visits.

Yes we were hot, sweaty and tired, but we made it! The ride home in the Metro.

Our journey back to the Metro station included asking several folks whether we were heading in the right direction. When we were at last on the right platform, I found it very fitting and even inspiring to be serenaded by a pair of Metro musicians harmonizing nicely. Their lyrics spoke to me from the Bill Withers song “Lean on Me:”

So just call on me brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on….

We arrived happily back at my daughter’s house, safe and sound in time for late naps. When my daughter asked what their favorite animal at the zoo was, the two-year-old responded, “The cow.” Okay….! We could have taken a drive through the country for that.

My only regret? That I neglected to toss some spare bills in the open instrument case of the musicians. We had so many hands we leaned on during our adventure!

If you are like me, we all have people we lean on for our daily lives as well. How long has it been since you tossed a thank you their way?


Send your own adventure stories to me at or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  


To walk or tramp about; to gad, wander. < Old French - trapasser (to trespass).

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I love to knit, crochet, cross stitch, craft, read, & bake. I also enjoy listening to country music and watching sprint car and NASCAR races

the practical mystic

spiritual adventures in the real world

Osheta Moore

Shalom in the City

Shirley Hershey Showalter

writing and reading memoir

Mennonite Girls Can Cook

A blog looking for harmony, grace and wisdom in many spheres of daily living.

mama congo

A blog looking for harmony, grace and wisdom in many spheres of daily living.


A blog looking for harmony, grace and wisdom in many spheres of daily living.

Roadkill Crossing

Writing generated from the rural life

The real Italy, as seen from the heart

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