Thursday, May 23, 2013

Ten Thousand Words

yellow-rumped warbler

 The days are so warm and welcoming with the sun peering through the trees.  The boys smell like sticky sweat and dirt. D is hosing off the car and singing a banjo song. I'm holding the dog's leash.  Big brother is bouncing his basketball.  little brother is frantically displacing water from his wading pool as the sun makes a line down his bare back.  I move closer to shade him from the beams, and now he plays in my shadow.  The dog laps water from the little pool.

I hum along with D and follow the dripping toddler through the grass with the dog at our knees.  little brother plucks dandelions from the grass. Big brother is off chasing a ball somewhere. I feel the slightest breeze across my face and smell lilac.  I hear mother wren in the magnolia tree.  She is warning us that we are too close.

black & white warbler

Sometimes Big brother is flipping logs to find salamanders.  Sometimes he is half over the edge of the koi pond with a net, focused in on a frog that turns out to be a toad and thank God! because toads shouldn't be in the water. His fingernails are dirty and his glasses are slid halfway down his nose, but he can't push them up because his hands are full of ramps and leaves and something is in his boot.

Sometimes I'm chasing the dog. Did I mention we got a dog? Sadie is her name. She's a mastiff, only a few weeks old. She's gentle and tough and wild and exhausted. She is a contradictory lady, full of energy and then utterly comatose for hours on end.  Her paws are floppy. Her ears are floppy. Her skin is floppy - and it's all so darling.  Sometimes she trips over those paws. Sometimes she tries to eat rocks or pine cones or birdseed.  She likes to chew. She only barks at our fat cat, the Queen. She snores like a chainsaw, and is so dear.  Anyway, sometimes I run in the yard and she runs alongside me and when we stop running, she flops over onto her side and I rub her pink tummy and she lays like that until the sun makes it so warm.

We eat dinner every possible night together at the table. D asks Big brother what his favorite part of the day was. It's almost always extra recess or no homework, but sometimes it's baseball or pizza or a joke someone told him at school. little brother picks at his plate and one of us leaves the table to makes him a meal of simple things that he'll actually eat. He eats, and is covered in whatever it is. Generally, head to toe.


D gives little brother his evening bath.  They sing and splash and - no matter where you are in the house - you can hear them squealing.  It's little brother's final surge before going to bed for the night. He waves night-night and likes to lay on his left side.

palm warbler

I make the bed so we can lay under the layers without clumps. D and I lay flat on our backs, allowing the weight of the day to sink deep, deep into the mattress to stay. Cats crawl on our legs. Sadie burrows her muzzle into our pillows, our necks, our sides. The window at the head of our bed shows a darkening sky and treetops swaying themselves to sleep.

red-breasted nuthatch

Big brother kisses us good night. The family tenderly sleeps. Nightly disturbances inevitably occur - a mouse sneaks in, a cat catches it, little brother cries out in his sleep, an ornery owl has something to say in the middle of the night. We do our best to hush the racket and deal with it in the morning.

To be honest, we only have so much emotional and intellectual energy to spend on the world around us.  I would much rather expend it on our own little piece of the world, and so I try my hardest to do just that.  Maybe I am small-minded.  Maybe this is evidence of a narrowness of my views. Maybe there will come a time where I see it as a flaw and will feel compelled to change it.  But right now, I am certain that by not allowing my energy to be diffused by a whole world of events that I am powerless to affect, I have more energy to immerse myself in family. Maybe if more people did this, the world would be better off.

I can't know for sure, but I think it's true.


-happy birthday. i love you.

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