Sunday, February 21, 2010
This is Carly. She and Molly decorate the paddock. I didn't always neglect my horses; before having children I groomed them fairly often, rode them occasionally, and even spent time lounging on the big rock in the field while they munched their hay and snorted at mosquitoes. Now, though, I feel proud that I remember to feed them three times a day. My life is bigger than it was nine years ago when Carly came to live with us. There are children, other animals, hours of indoor work. I still like to glance out the sliding glass door and see her at the fence, though. I like knowing that even if I forget the time, she'll remind me with a disapproving glare that she is due her dinner. And her hair - chestnut hair that stays shiny even in the face of benign neglect - is still soft against my cheek when I stand a moment next to her, out in the paddock.
Reading Schoemperlen's "At a Loss for Words" this week I came across this Mary Oliver quote. "You do not have to be good. / You do not have to walk on your knees / for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. / You only have to let the soft animal of your body / love what it loves." The main character emails this particular poem not once but twice to her beloved. She so desperately wants him to love her, and most of their relationship takes place online. Occasionally they meet, but only when they happen to be in the same city on business. I wonder how anyone, fictional characters included, could live their lives that way? How awful not to be able to touch and be touched by the one you love. Hand holding, lips brushing, arms encircling - they recharge me, keep me going. Yet the cure for stress, grief, or sheer exhaustion has always been the soft fur of a bunny, kitty or dog. Somehow they always seem to know when you need them most.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Reading Michelle Cooper's 'A Brief History of Montmaray' this week I came across this very timely quote: "I always step warily, taking care not to look down through the gaps where the slats have rotted away (it's not the heights I mind as much as the depths)." The main character, Sophia, goes on to quote Kipling, 'The spent deep feigns her rest.' Sophia and her family are living on the island in a castle. With the cliffs and sea all around, it's easy to see why both would be very present in her thoughts. Water is always at the back of my mind, even in the dead of winter when all the currents have ceased to flow. Here in Vermont, the river that divides us from new Hampshire is quite scenic, providing panoramic views with a mountainous backdrop. I often wished we lived closer to the ocean where the depths are beyond imagining. But visiting the frozen river reminds me that way down deep there is still a trickle of movement. And as the snow begins to thaw the roar will return, and once again the water will move on its way to meet the sea.
Luca is the child most likely to jump into the deep end of the pool without wondering whether or not he can swim. He's also the one who will share at least half of whatever he loves - candy, chocolate milk, stuffed animals - with whoever happens to be sitting next to him. His heart is huge, his will is strong, and his courage comes naturally. He's the boy I worry about both the most and the least. "Mommy, when will I die?" he asks every few days. Not concerned, just curious. "Not for many, many, many years," I tell him. Like it's an order. Like I have any real control over the date and time of his eventual demise. One thing I can do - teach him how to swim. Because someday he won't be held afloat with any life jacket.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
I am surrounded by men. One husband, three sons, male dogs, and a boy guinea pig. At least we no longer have any roosters, just silly hens with no agenda beyond scratching the ground in search of food, hard to come by in our current winter conditions. I love my men, their whoops and hollers, their appetites, their sharp-edged toys, the way they laugh together with gusto only moments after vowing bloodthirsty revenge for some vaguely perceived insult. My boys are growing into men at a rapid rate; some mornings I don't quite recognize the boy I read bedtime stories to the night before. He's subtlety changed: a tiny bit taller, an expression of slight adult concern on an otherwise guileless face. Like looking at a blurred boy through an icy window, the man he will become hidden for the moment by fog and frozen water.
It's hard for me to believe, but from the moment my son was born he was on his way to becoming a man. Over the years he has learned to be kind, the power of dry wit, and how to feel comfortable in his long limbs. My husband has also schooled him in The Way of Hats. For one, they are always in season: some for protection against the sun, some for warmth in the cold, biting winter. While the elder male in our house prefers a beret, the younger chooses something more comical, albeit with a sense of style. As he begins the rapid downhill descent towards Teenagerdom (just this past week he turned twelve and a half) my son has begun to figure out just what being a man entails. And though I know he's still got a ways to go, I can often catch a glimpse of the man he's becoming. Tonight we were asked to choose a poem for his English class project. One of the ones we read was aptly entitled, "My Father's Hats."