Tuesday, August 30, 2011


In like a lion, out like a lamb... or so the saying goes. In a weird twist of fate, The Storm (Hurricane Irene) has joined forces this weekend with The Beginning of School to morph into some weird lion headed beast battling against The End of Summer. Sadly it's not an even match and it's very apparent who will win. How does one fight back such a ferocious monster? Some would take up the chair and the whip to try to beat it into submission. I speak from experience when I say that tactic doesn't usually work. Fighting rage with rage never does. I lost it this week as I screamed ferociously about the state of T's Lego-strewn room. I think back onto that time and am appalled by my reaction. Deep down inside I know it's Time that is my enemy, threatening to turn my child into a high schooler--a transformation that starts in just a few short days. I am not one to take transitions smoothly.

Instead I've been turning my attention towards ways we can enjoy what's left of Summer as it fades away. Thursday T and I braved the rains to tour our favorite Farmer's Market where we met another mom and son dynamic duo. They had also braved the elements to bring their cart and delicious food to friends and neighbors. After an amazing meal of crepes and samosas T and I made our way home as the rains lifted. There was a moment on the highway when we glanced over to a breathtaking view of the setting sun casting the clouds and mountains in a golden hue. The fog was lifting, giving off an ethereal aura, as if we were traveling somewhere magical. T expressed his sadness that I couldn't stop to photograph it. I told him that I was truly happy to see it with him. That is what I want to remember, a scene I can replay in the years to come, not some humongous hissy fit about an untidy bedroom.

Last night I came home to an empty house. Seizing the moment of solitude I made a batch of blackberry scones for us to have at breakfast this morning. Armed with a cup of tea (a lovely lemongrass given to me by a dear friend) and an oat scone I spent the morning preparing for the coming storm. Part of that time involved listening to the new Matt Nathanson CD. At one point we were all up dancing, and I thought this, I want to remember this.

Afterwards we all got our rain jackets and headed to the car to do some much needed school shopping before the heavy rains came. We were all so unnaturally suited up, that T remarked something like “In Which We Head Out on an Expedition .” I could see it as a chapter heading in a book of stories. For this is a new chapter which we are about to begin. The two are so intertwined, and ironically you can't have an ending without a beginning. It's taken me years to come to this realization, but that doesn't mean I can accept any easier. Still, I have hope...

It just might be that Matt's new CD, “Modern Love” was the perfect music choice for us this morning. Looking through the booklet I saw lyrics such as 'less drowning, more land.' And 'you blew through me like a hurricane.' But in commenting about the inspiration behind these songs Nathanson writes that they were compiled around the idea of things 'smashed up against each other, working together.' The lion and the lamb, an exciting starting point and a slow quiet end. I know I'm not ready for the warm weather to leave us, nor I am ready for my son to enter this new phase in his life. And I am torn, between wanting to fight and fret or sit and be calm, making the last of these few moments. I know it does me no good to roar at the elements or the passing of time, both of which can make me insanely crazy at times. But I do know that armed with a good cup of tea and space to sit and enjoy it I can prepare myself for almost anything.

As the day drew to close we three sat in bed to read aloud from our current book, flashlights at the ready. The winds grew increasingly loud and gusted to high speeds. I watched my son jump up and walk out into them, a thrilled look on his face. Some of us love beginnings, it seems. I can see he's ready to embrace the excitement and make his own way.

Our lone sunflower is a volunteer.

Usually I plant a row or two along our front porch. Almost every year here since our first we've had a line of nodding sunflowers standing in haphazard, ineffectual guard. One year they nearly grew to the second-story windows; neighbors were placing bets. But this year, I missed the moment. Spring was hectic. I managed the tomatoes, the pumpkins, the potatoes which are now dead. I'm pretty sure I ordered sunflower seeds. I think I have several packets of seeds drifting somewhere in the house, maybe behind the guinea pig cages, or in the kitchen desk. Maybe in a boy's room. But only one flower in the yard and that one had to grow by its own effort.

It may not be there tomorrow. The wind has picked up. I don't know if you've heard, but there's this hurricane? Irene? Today was mostly rain. Our road is sink-holed, our basement is a lake. And we are lucky – our power is persistent and our structures are whole. Old covered bridges around the valley are crumbling with the weight of all that water. The towns to the east and west of us are flooded. I can hear our stream – that usually by this time of year is a weak trickle – roaring outside my window.

And maybe we'll lose some trees, a few boards off the coop, another inch or so of driveway gravel. As long as my family stays safe. And if I could put one more wish on the list – let the sunflower stay upright. She's got courage, that lion-faced flower, making her lone way in the wilds of my yard. 
Edited: posting was delayed by intermittent internet difficulty.  The sunflower survived upright.  But my basement of books did not.  Still, we are firmly in the camp of lucky.

Next Week's word: Bed

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