August 30, 2013

Ways to Say Summer

in Danish: sommer
in Swedish: sommar
in Old English: sumor
in Dutch: zomer
in Czech: éto
in Greek: καλοκαίρι
in Quechua: chakisqa pacha
in Arabic: صيف
in Lakota: blokétu
 in Chechen: akhke
in Chinese: 夏天
in French: été
 in Japanese: 
in Latin: aestas
in Fijian: vulaikatakata
in Russian: лето
in Somali: xagaa
in Spanish: verano
in Thai: หน้าร้อ

Or, in Me:
lazy mornings
barn swallows
playground swings
small stones in clear streams
farmers markets
aluminum canoes
back porches
flower gardens
wide skies
baseball hats
leaves, shaking
baby, laughing
late nights
white wine
love in the afternoon

August 20, 2013

What I've Been Into - Summer 2013

I've decided to try something new here. I was talking the other day to a friend about our summers, and I realized two things:
  1. I loved hearing about what she'd been doing, what she'd read and seen, where she visited, what she'd been mulling over.
  2. Although I had read/seen/visited/thought over actual adultish things myself, I could hardly remember any of them. 
I am blaming this on my dear sweet little boy and the scientific FACT called "Baby Brain." And I am using it as a reason to put together a post now and then--maybe once a month? once a season?--to remember what I've been into between the rocking and feeding and human-jungle-gyming exploits that soak through so many of my waking hours. A good number of other bloggers do this same thing, and despite the fact that there's nothing overtly lovely or inspiring about a list of television titles, I look forward to these posts. They open the door to that writer's humanness, I think, and they establish a sense of community. That said, I hope you don't mind my intermittent forays away from the sublime edges of life and toward its muddier middle. I'd also love for your to share some bits of what you've found interesting lately, too.

So, to start us off, here's my first installment of what I've been into:

  1. The Round House by Louise Erdrich -- my hands-down favorite read of the season
  2. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides -- +++
  3. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg -- thinking about how to use these insights in my classroom
  4. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green -- sweet and sad; will recommend this to my students
  5. I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb -- couldn't really get into this one?
  6. Stacks of picture books, most notably Frederick by Leo Lionni and The Deer Watch by Pat Lowery Collins

  1. "Snow Fall" by John Branch -- I'm a bit behind, but I thought this was a well-told story presented in a fascinating fashion
  2. "The Opt-Out Generation Wants Back In" -- fascinating as I think about mothering/working/etc.
  3. "The Tragedy of the Sunset Photo" -- forgive me, world
  4. "Dear Prudence" -- guilty pleasure #1
  5. "Kissing" by Diana Whitney
  6. "In the Community Garden" by Mark Doty

TV and Movies (mostly via Netflix and Hulu):
  1. Breaking Bad -- the only TV show in years that has made me wish we owned an actual television 
  2. Dexter -- we have a thing for complicated characters
  3. World War Z -- husband's idea; kind of liked it?
  4. Jim Gaffigan stand-up
  5. So You Think You Can Dance -- guilty pleasure #2

  1. "Treasure" -- spoken word written and performed by a former student
  2. Sheep protest -- oh, the power of the herd!
  3. The North Shore of Lake Superior
  4. Red Heart the Ticker -- love this VT musical duo

  1. The Lucky Day collection at our local library -- books normally buried a mile deep under a wait list sometimes just show up on this shelf, and if you check it at the right time... ba-bam! 
  2. Norwex products -- who would have thought a wash cloth could win my heart?
  3. Nordicware popcorn popper -- okay, I actually found this a few years ago, but it's amazingness needs to be shared with other lovers of the perfect evening salty snack
  4. Grocery stores at 8pm on week day nights -- so peaceful you can hear the freezers hum
  5. Pureed sweet potatoes -- delicious? Yes.
  6. The Fourth River Magazine -- another place-based publication
  7. You Are My Wild -- beautiful photography of children
  8. Feedly -- I was a bit distraught when I learned that Google Reader would disappear in the beginning of July, but now after having used it for two months, I'm a happy convert. I really love swiping articles left and right on the iPad.

So that's that. Of course I feel like I forgot about one hundred things I intended to share with you here, but now that I've cleared a space for this kind of record keeping, perhaps I'll do a better job of making notes as various things inspire/move/humor/startle me. That's the goal, anyway. I start back at work in one week: eeeeeep! Here's hoping my baby brain doesn't fill with such a sweep of new need-to-knows that I suddenly forget how to type. :)

How about you? What's kept you thinking this summer? What did I miss? 

Be well, friends!

August 8, 2013

Six Months, or The Bewilderment of Mother Love

I have been a mother for six months. Half a year. Winter to summer. Brown to green. Snow to heat lightning. Egg to flight. 184 rotations of the earth, and so many moments with my cheek placed along the skin of my son.

I have lived delight.

And exhaustion.

And a breaking away of time. Those 184 rotations happened, surely, but sometimes I glance out the window and it is startling to see the clover, so lush and purple-budded, instead of white. Perhaps it is because Elliot came to us in this northern land when everything was insular and tucked away and, for the most part, still. What I do know is that despite my denial, he has grown as quickly as the clover, observant and beautiful and steadfast, and I love him more than all the other studied and cultivated sections of my wild-garden life.

I might have anticipated this, but I could not have anticipated him, this person.

It's bewildering, really: what it means to be a mother, to be his mother, to still be me.

On the night of the solstice--a dusk that goes on and on--I leave El sleeping with his papa, and I walk with the same steps, the exact same lightness that I felt at twenty-one, sneaking out of a clapboard cabin at 5:30 in the morning and tiptoeing through dew and fog to the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, just so I could watch the sunrise in that unruly quiet. Just so I could feel the vibrations in my body, the way everything that mattered ran without motors into the perfect dawn. I walk with those same steps, the same sandals even, down the avenues and trails of my domestic neighborhood, and I am humming with that same energy, that same ease. I look up and the sky. The sky! It is just as big.

And days later I am out with Elliot along a lake, and a boy of about ten zooms toward us on his bike. He is wiry and tan, flip-flops and a baseball cap. When he passes us, he gives me a perfect smile, a perfect hello, a perfect pump of his pedals, and I think, You are my son. I see a boy at the park, flinging himself down the tallest slide, and I think, You are my son. I watch teenagers at the parade, flaunting and flirting, and I can hardly believe it, but I believe it: My sons. I see my husband more clearly than I ever have, all the way back to his days as a first-born blue-eyed boy brought home to Deep Lake. Elliot shifts in my arms--the wind off the water, the sun, the leaves skipping from shadows to light--and as I hold him I feel very old. It is one thing to watch a sunrise. It is another to bear the weight of all the sunrises and sunsets that your boy will ever know.

The heaviness and the lightness. I oscillate between them at such speeds that it is no wonder motherhood sometimes leaves me feeling dazed.

And yet I wake in the morning to baby noises--bleary-eyed, wrinkled, startled from some dream--and I go to this child. The light is sifting in through the blinds. I blink and I blink. The dream is still there, on the periphery of my consciousness, and it's funny because on most days it feels like it never fully leaves. Instead it floats around me like particulates, trails my body like streaks of cosmic dust, and it follows me into the space where my son is.

I see him and he sees me.

And then we are both smiling with perfect ease, both making sounds from our memories of each other and of moments we haven't yet experienced, from Chesapeake mornings, from big sky nights, from the sensation of the earth spinning and spinning and spinning on its finely pointed axis, 184 million times. When I reach for him, and he reaches for me, and I lift him up and the dream is still there, like the light, slipping all around us--six months feels almost silly. I have been this boy's mother my whole life.