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. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

quick shifts

I really appreciate this blog because it helps me grasp time.  Time and her dramatic sweeps and gestures.  The way she takes us so boldly from one place to the next, one day energized, the next an exhausted stupor.  Time and how she holds our babies high, their legs lengthen, their vocabularies expand.  The internal seasons end abruptly around here.  The external a shadow, a reminder, the sun still on my face, even on the coolest mornings.

Time swept me from a tiny peninsula in British Columbia to a Los Angeles highway.  Swept me from my sister's sweet tree house to the sea, to aunties and cousins, to mothers and fathers.  

Swept me back to our little valley, the school we head to each day, the plans and meetings and goals.  The early mornings and early bedtimes, my body and brain so done before the sun has even set. 

Sometimes it seems a bit insane, the schedule of a teacher.  To go all out to full-stop.  The first few days always feel like a hazy dream.  A dream you've had a million times but never fully remember.  It's neither bad nor good, just totally real. 

So we're in it now.  We're in the glow of September and the gold of the hills.  We're in the apples as they ripen on the trees, the bears as they meander, the children as they snuggle us on a Saturday morning in bed, everyone so very glad for slowness of movement, for a day that can just unfold.