Sunday, October 26, 2014

the fastest season

 The fall colors continue to shift and re-shape each day.  The lawn that was still green on Wednesday is, today, a sea of leaves.  The children rake and pile, face paint all day, hail, then sun, then rain, all in an hours worth of soccer.  How lovely it was to watch my girl improve over the past two months, her strong kicks and confidence of the game.  Somewhere in all of this I've been away and returned, had my dad here, and then gone.  I know that the next time I sit down to write in this space, the trees will be bare.  That's a tough one for me to internalize.  I love this time, love the cooling and colors but always have to brace myself a bit for what's next.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

first rain

It's our first rainy day of fall.  The heat is on in the house.  I just want to nest, rearrange picture frames and lamp, light candles and bake bread.  The children dance to their songs on Pandora, sing, slip back into my bed, ask for a movie.  I oblige, happy to sit and write and sip tea, bask in the dark hue of a day without sunshine. 

Jeff's gone for the weekend and I see how easily we slip into our little routine.  The music and baking and random little excursions to Butterfly to buy tea and a tiny bag of candy for each of them.  To the farmer's market for apples and purple potatoes.  The serendipity of the kind man from the Bitteroot and his peacock feathers and dried bouquets.  He was the impetus for the nesting and rearranging, though I'm still not sure if the long strands fit right in the smallish vase, wish for a teleport to the Import Market to buy just the right thing.

For now, it doesn't matter.  Just this space and my babies.  My music and my mellow.

Friday, October 10, 2014

my boyfriend

He's not always his best self for me, my wild little Sol.  The past few weeks have been tough at home.  He screams about dinner, refuses to eat most offerings.  There's been a resurgence of nighttime bed-wetting and yet he despises Pull-Ups because they're for babies.  The laundry and rage were bringing us all a bit down.

On the flip side, Eliana has been in this very lovely, peaceful place.  She and I have engaging conversations and she can actually be somewhat helpful around the house.  She, too, gets frustrated with her brother yet she always starts each day loving him unconditionally.

Last night she had a dinner date with her bestie, and Sol and I had a stay home date together.  He asked for grilled cheese and while he was waiting for it to cook, he actually ate his whole plate of broccoli, all the while chatting about his buddies and asking sweet questions.

After dinner we headed outside with our swords and bikes.  He practiced tricks on the neighbor's driveway, speeding down the slope and then hopping the curb, skirting over the island, and then crusing back towards me, massive smile.  He'd then hop off his bike, pull his little plastic sword from his pants (nothing Oedipal here...) and challenge me in a duel.  After he won, he'd hop back on and head down the road again.  We shared an apple from the apple tree down the road, watched as the light began to change.

And then I took it up a notch.

Hey Sol.  You know how you did such a great job eating your sandwich and broccoli?  You know how you sat polietely and didn't get angry during dinner?  Well, I have an idea.

We hopped in the Honda and headed down the hill.  There was the longest train ever and, as we waited, the sky drew us back in.

Mama, that sky looks like heaven.  Have you ever been there, mama?  It's like pink and golden and purple just like the rainbow. 

No, babe.  I've never been to heaven.  

I stared at the train, the sky, my mind moving to my girlfriend who lost her brother this week, how sad and terrible and tremendous it all is.  I could hardly stand it, the beauty that held us still, slow train, dripping light.

We ate our ice-creams outside, basking in the last glow of the day.  We came home and snuggled in his bed, as I read the longest version of Peter Pan ever, the one with all the duels between Hook and Pan and Tinker Bell and her naughty thoughts.  At five thirty this morning, there he was again, cradled in to me like an animal, the way we've always fit on such an elemental level.  Even as I type this, he has found his way to me in the dark, lies across my lap like a primate, my chest on his back, his body in a little ball just like he likes.

Sometimes we need special time.  Sometimes we need a shift in perspective, something that knocks us from our routine, something that let's in the light.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

all I want

My man gets restless when there's not enough
movement on weekend days,
peaks and parties,
rivers and rapids,
adrenalin instead of insistent
laundry, the lists and canvas bags
stacked full with groceries and the
vacuum whirs and a very old man
turns ninety and sticks his thumb into
chocolate frosting,
won't look up for the camera,
chews and spits out pizza,
the cheese gelatinous and aged
on the plate,
the energy so charged.
This big day,
ninety years on this earth.

But then we go
to the sacred garden and
the light is just perfect
the gray just the right way
to celebrate another birthday
a birthday not as momentous
a bit in limbo
between holding this life
and embracing the new
and the children race
and the grown-ups breathe deep
pay attention
slow down
and celebrate.

And this is really all I want now
these sweet times that slip in
unexpected like soft rain,
unannounced and unassuming,
family and the way we hold each other
in so many different shades,
the brilliance at
its best. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

full immersion

Mother's can always second guess themselves.  Children throw fits, melt-down, refuse to eat anything green.  You don't floss their teeth enough, their lunches don't have enough variety, you let them watch TV so you can have a break.  I constantly see the many ways, daily, that I can improve myself so that my children can somehow be better.  It's a bit exhausting, the continuous need to do more, do different. 

That said, there are a few sure-fire successes in my family that I can rely on and be a bit proud of.  We will always enjoy a good burrito.  We are well-hydrated and drink lots of water.  And we spend a lot of really swell time together outside in the wild.

Gorgeous September temperatures lead us down the Bitteroot Valley, to an old, faithful spot.  From the minute we hit the trail, the whining stopped, the imaginations and conversations kicked in hard, and the exploring exploded.  My children are fearless outdoors.  Usually the first ten or so minutes at any creek side spot is my settling in time -- settling into the wet and slippery rocks, settling into the anxiety of my child who can't swim as he hurls himself through the freezing water, moves like a monkey across branches and boulders, his bravado and extreme confidence in potentially treacherous conditions.  Eliana just sort of takes off, singing her show tunes, taking dare after dare from her dad.  I'm really, really lucky that Jeff is the father to my children.  They have his confidence outdoors, in their bodies, his crazy zest for all things that push the limit, just a little bit. 

I feel so ridiculously thankful that I am their mom.  That I have been given the gift of fretting over them in such a beauteous space.  That I love more than anything to be outside where it is quiet and calm and open.  The only better thing is doing that with them.  So I have to tell myself to relax and be present.  If Soli is doing something truly dangerous, we will stop him.  I can't not let them explore -- his little victory dance as the rock he throws ricochets down the creek, his insistence on bouldering with a plastic sword in his hand.  And the lady.  And the way she asked me all sorts of questions as we wandered together on the trail.  What musicals was I in.  Was I ever a main character.  Tell her again about how I used to ice-skate or my dance recitals.  She scored her first goal today.  She looked at me in utter disbelief and then broke into a huge smile.  Jeff and I yelled just a bit. 

Sometimes it feels impossible that I live where I live.  This weekend was a flood of gratitude for the sunshine and trails, the clean water and open sky.  The man and his strong mind and open heart, the girl and her zest and the boy and his wild ways. 

In Kootenai, the canyon walls hold us safe,
gray slate leading to the sky,
boulders house fairies and bees,
mosses and red leaves,
turning right now, right before us,
this precipice of change.

The children move fast, want to
climb every rock,
stop at each new
pool,  slip and slide and
up and down,
shimmy and hold and scream --
the water is cold,
the sun is warm,
we lay like lizards.
we wander like conquistadors,
the discovery of a new land,
the dirt flies behind us.

last hurrah


Sunday, September 14, 2014

soccer Sunday

My girl had her first soccer game today.  Fall, second grade.  Shinguards, jersey, cleats -- the whole nine.  Thanks to my girlfriend Jody, she had all the gear she needed to look tough on the field, without her mama having to spend a time.  It was a low-investment, quick dip into the world of team sports.  Hair pulled up so that nothing could obstruct her view.   Just a girl and her ball.

Of course, girlfriend had only had one practice.  And for whatever reason, I didn't get the email, so she showed up to her first practice in a sparkly skirt and sandals.  The other girls totally looked the part.  I rushed her outside and then ran to the curb to make sure that my middle schoolers made it safely home.  I wasn't exactly too concerned about girlfriend and the game.

That all seemed to change today on the field.  Today on the field, five small girls facing five other small girls, it all came back to me.  My one season of soccer.  Second grade.  The Space Invaders.  Sky blue and gold uniforms, my hair in a pixie cut, my gappy smile and knobby knees.  The orange slices and Capri Suns.

And how I never, ever wanted the ball to come near me.

I hated soccer.  Despised it.

Oh, I remember them all.  The Strawberry Shortcakes with the DeLellis twins, their sporty blonde ponytails and fancy footwork.  The tomboy Meghan Ramierez with her evil looks and aggressive elbows.  The coach who totally scared me. 

I was always full-back, out in the far corner of the field, praying, praying, that the damn ball stayed away.  I'm pretty certain I never kicked it.  I'm pretty certain that in my mind I was singing songs from, The Sound of Music, staging elaborate renditions of, "So Long, Farewell."  I'm pretty sure I was wondering how I ever ended up on that field, what possessed me to think that I was like these other girls.  I hated being on a team because I hated the idea of messing up.  I didn't want to be blamed.  I didn't want to be weak.  I just wanted to blend in with the grass and count the minutes until the whistle blew.

So some odd flashbacks occurred today as I sat on the damp grass, watching Eliana run up and down the field.  I was anxious.  I was intense.  I was pissed when she spaced out, rolling a fly-away ringlet around one finger instead of following the ball, called her name, tried to bring her back in to the game.  I was definitely saying more than any of the other moms.  I was cheering and encouraging, I was focused and intent (because Lord knows that while I failed at team sports, I excelled at cheerleading). 

As I watched the other team score goal after goal against my daughter's team, watched her peppy posture grow more and more deflated, my empathy meter rose.  My flashbacks came faster, neon colored like bad hallucinogens, bright and quick and a bit scary.  I hated to think of her experiencing the sensation of losing, hated to think of her feeling in any way like a failure.  Life has been gentle on her so far.  She's naive and blissed out and dances wildly to her show tunes.  She is not aggressive.  That said, she is way tougher than I was.  She skis fast, hikes hard, rides her bike like the bully in Pee Wee's Big Adventure, up and down the street.  She is not me.  Even with her love for, The Sound of Music. 

I was afraid of what she'd say when the game ended.  They lost twenty to three. Not that I was counting. 

But she just rolled on through her day without saying all that much.  She said that they did pretty well for only having one practice.  She was really proud of her fancy footwork at the end.  She wanted to go eat Asian bento boxes at Iza and when I told her Iza was closed, she wanted burritos.  She was just moving through another thing.

And maybe I did too when I was her age.  Maybe I chose to never play another team sport again, ever, not because it was so awful, but because I just got really, really into dance and didn't have time for the field.  Maybe. 

Or maybe she is a totally different kid than I was, her daddy's daughter, a Montana girl.  I guess it doesn't matter.  But at the end of the day, I was so full of love for my girl.  And as we listened to, "Eidelweiss" that afternoon and made plum jelly, her taking breaks from chopping and stirring to do wild dance moves in the dining room, I felt so thankful for this opportunity to look full circle, to feel so deeply, to love so hard.