Saturday, March 27, 2010

what's in a name: a year ago this month

Our friend Callie's beautiful watercolor rendition of a desert juniper tree:

Back in college I learned that Aborigine children are given place-based names according to where the mother was when she felt the first kick.  So, for example, if she happend to be at Turtle Springs when she felt that kick, her baby would be named Turtle.  I loved this idea--having your child's existence tied to a particular place on this earth.  For a tree-hugging dirt-worshipper like me, this was fantastically romantic.

And then, I got pregnant.  And it became clear to me that the "first kick" is not always so clear.  It could be a kick.  Or, it could be gas.  Or, you weren't paying attention and missed that tiny movement altogether.  And who would want to tie their kid to the wrong place on this earth?   

J bug's first, unquestionable, definitely-not-gas, kick happened while I was sitting on the couch, my feet propped up on the coffee table (they were sore and swollen from working in the garden) and wondering how I could get my hands on a big pile of fresh horse manure.  I had a hard time finding a baby's name in all this: Couch, Coffee, Garden, Horse, Table, Manure?

As it turns out, Juniper had some ideas of her own.  In March of last year, months before her "first kick", when she was barely larger than a kidney bean, Juniper was named.

I was 2 months pregnant on a backpacking trip with my man along the Escalante River in southern Utah.  I had had the inaptly named Morning Sickness (a.k.a All Day Sickness) pretty bad, so we were mostly day-hiking from our base camp.  Towards evening on one of those hikes, my hubby was going wild taking photos of the storm clouds and the junipers and all the red rocks.

And I was on my hands and knees under a large juniper tree, collecting the dried berry seeds, thinking, I'll make a necklace out of these for our baby from it's first in-utero backpacking trip.  And then, it hit me.  Plain, straight, square and simple like divine intervention.  Juniper.  What a great name.

"Hey honey!" I yelled, "What do you think about Juniper?  For a girl's name?"  The more we said it, the more we liked it and by the end of the trip my husband was saying, "It's settled.  If we have a girl, we're naming her Juniper.  If we have a boy, we're adopting a girl, and naming her Juniper."

The specific tree I was under is just to the right of the above photograph.  Our Juniper was named for a beautiful, yet tough and rugged tree on a bench overlooking the Escalante river canyon.  One day, we'll take her there.  She has her place after all.

:: There was one other funny thing that happened on that trip.  Our last night camping, my eye was slashed by a juniper branch.  Inside the tent, I joked that it was a sign: we must be having a girl.  

:: One more thing.  When we arrived home, sitting on my dresser was a box of juniper incense sticks.  My sis-in-law had given them to me for hosting her baby shower when I was about 9 days pregnant and not yet knowing.  I love how these things happen.  No wonder we never could settle on a boy's name!


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