It’s 6:30 on Sunday morning. I couldn’t sleep.
The sunlight comes through our bathroom window. I could tell by the way the dappled light was shifting on the wall that there was a soft breeze blowing outside. I came downstairs to sip coffee and watch the branches sway, the leaves flutter and the sunlight dance as it rose over the ravines and through the trees. Simple, beautiful sunshine…it mends my soul.
Last weekend we took a trip to visit the parentals in coastal North Carolina. I actually forgot about school and deadlines and responsibility for a few days. Anyway, about five hours into the trip (maybe more…it’s all a blur now) we stopped for gas. It was at this point that the old man realized that the reverse gear was not functional. Um… Okay… So we forged ahead because really, what else could we do? The rest of the trip remained uneventful if you don’t count the dashboard beeping, the transmission light flaring, the jerky gear shifting and my fervent praying for us to puh-lease not get stuck on the bridge.
And then the next morning, the car wouldn’t go into drive, either.
I am going to miss that car.
We bought a new car a few days later. I cried the first time I drove it…one of those cries where you feel it in your throat, and in your chest, and your eyes water up but no tears fall. The new car is very nice, but all I really wanted was my old, smelly, gravely-engined Mountaineer back.
And now I have become the food police in the new car, Kate teases me.
No food in the new car!
No red Gatorade in the new car!
No water in the new car! (You know how if you spill water in the car it smells like rotten beans for the next thirteen years? Ask me how I know…)
Someone, who shall remain nameless, got chocolate all over the inside door handle. The car is three days old and it’s already ruined. I looked at the chocolate and freaked out a tiny bit. And then out of my mouth flew a sentence that has been handed down through the generations…
This is why we can never have anything nice.
I need sunlight. On more than a few occasions this long, long, looooooong winter, I have marched myself straight into the laundry room and plunked myself down on the floor with a book and a cup of tea. It is the warmest, sunniest room in this entire house.
The window is smeared with Poppy’s nose marks. And there is a bit of her hair on the floor. She likes this room, too. Sometimes she sleeps in the laundry basket, sometimes on the rag rug. Sometimes she stretches out behind the door so that it is nearly closed, and she can’t get out.
I have a bag of chocolate eggs hidden in here. When The Four were younger, when I was younger, I would hide in here with chocolate. I needed chocolate then. Now, it is sunshine I need.
From my spot on the floor I sit with my eyes closed and my face turned to the sun pouring through the window. There are chickadees perched in the redbud outside my window. Soon flowers and tiny, tender leaves will emerge from that little tree’s bulging branches. The days are growing longer, even if spring is taking it’s sweet time. But it doesn’t look terribly warm. It isn’t actually terribly warm.
I am sincerely tired of pulling on thick, wool socks over my dry scratchy heels. My little feet are screaming for sunshine and sand and heck, they’d even settle for chlorinated water and burning hot pavement over the feeling of another suffocating sock. I watched a show about Norway this week. I could never live in Norway. How do people live with their bodies bundled up, hidden from the sun forever?
I saw Ella’s teeny little buns today when she was dressing for school, and last night, William’s bare arms. I am moved by the sight of them. I am buoyed by the scent of them, the pattern of their freckles, the whorls of downy hair on their backs. I miss seeing the sun’s highlights in their hair, and their sunburned noses and shoulders. I miss smelling their outdoor smell. I could fill up the internets with all that I miss… I always think the threat of a long harsh winter sounds fun what with the hot cocoa and all, but then it actually happens.
I went into the yard yesterday to check on my gardens. There was not much to see. I reminded myself that it is just early March. And from where I sit, it still looks a heck of a lot like winter.
“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” ~Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
The charcoal gray shingles above our family room compose the majority of my view from the shower each morning. Behind them I can see the tops of a few trees. The sun is usually still low enough that it’s brilliant yellow and pink rays haven’t yet sliced through the trees above the rooftop.
But this morning what I saw was a snow-covered roof, smooth wind-drifts of sparkling brilliant crystals and beyond that trees…the tops of trees…as far as I could see. It was later in the morning on this day; the 17 inches of snow had given me a couple of extra hours to spend sipping coffee and reading a book that I am trying to finish, however hard I seem to be finding that to do. And yet I am still not done with that book.
Now tiny droplets of watery mist flew around me like fireworks…flashing and sparkling as they met the sun’s rays through the window…swirling and swirling upward until they reached the ceiling and were thrust downward by some invisible force. Rivulets of water streamed down my face, through my lashes and across my lips, it’s warmth sinking into me. I breathe in the scent of handmade soap and remember the first time I made it; how good my life felt; how happy I felt then; and how good the entire house smelled for weeks as it cured. And I thought “soon enough there will be time for that again.”
From beyond the door spilled the customary strains of my home. A few notes from a baritone followed swiftly with some thumping/pounding sounds and quite possibly some muffled swear words. Followed with more notes from the baritone…repeat. And a viola…song after song, note after note. A page turns, and more beautiful harmonies. And there are two little redheads playing some very elaborate game with their stuffed animals. And bickering. Because that is just how those two communicate.
This morning I ate orange pound cake for breakfast. We all did. They got dressed to go out and play. I helped with gloves still wet from yesterday, and boots that were on the wrong feet, and zippers and hats and hoods. I joined them outside a few minutes later, just to be with them in their world of sparkling, frozen, kid wonderland for a moment. They were already hot at that point, stripping off hats and gloves and unzipping coats. Their cheeks were pinkened. They were happy. I showed Ella the deer tracks in the snow and how they look like hearts. And then I said goodbye…and I left them there, with their dad.
I came here, to this place full of adults and gray carpet and tan walls and metal file cabinets. To a window that overlooks not trees, but blacktop and eight air conditioning units whose motors fill my ears with a constant hum. Coupled with the buzz from the fluorescent lights above my head, it creates a pretty constant white noise that I have learned to ignore. There is chatter around the corner now and then, but I’m not usually a part of it. It’s a pretty nice office, though I don’t make it sound that way.
It is quiet here. I can concentrate. There is no tv or wii game; no xbox. No muffled swearing. No thumping or stomping or pounding. There is no bickering. Nobody running through the house with Poppy, barking barking barking.
But there is no sunshine streaming through my window. No padding of small feet. No wagging tails. There are no fireworks; no sparkle. No soapy smell. No warmth. No memories.
There is no music here.
I’m sitting here drenched in sunshine. Some days, it’s the only way I can seem to get warm. This is my favorite spot in the morning, here in the kitchen right across from the window. Sometimes I catch myself staring out into the woods…everything still gray and bare. Woodpeckers skimming up and down the trees and above them, a very large bird circles. Today it is breezy.
We are in the flux between winter sports and spring sports. Somehow our schedule doubled between last week and this week. That both thrills and concerns me. We have started spring basketball, and flag football starts next week. Unbelievable as it may be, there are very few practice conflicts and I think someone up there had a hand in this scheduling perfection.
Kate will be moving into the advanced riding lessons. This is both good and bad. Good because she is advancing. Bad because we are changing instructors and I have a particular fondness for her current instructor, and a particular nervousness about her future instructor. She kind of terrifies me. But she doesn’t seem to bother Kate much. Perhaps I am a bit of a weenie.
Ella could not be any cuter in her ballet class. Not even a pinch cuter. She’s still trying to get the hang of it…the straight legs are really throwing her for a loop. She continues to feign illness at school. It is humorous only because I know the look she can put on her little face that makes her look as though she is dying. She is quite a good little actress.
I tore the carpet off the stairs a couple weeks ago. Once the runner was off, and the tacky strips and the staples were all removed, they looked pretty good. They needed paint on the rises though, and I realized that the woodwork along the steps and up the walls also needed repainting and recaulking, so it took a few days but they look nice now. We had some wall repairs to make as well, so we spackled those up and when we weren’t looking, Poppy licked every ounce of spackle right off the walls. So we re-spackled and painted while she hung around, licking her chops. It all looks quite nice now.
When you think you have everything under control, and you’re just going to spend a quiet day doing laundry, your washing machine breaks. And not only does it break, but it breaks mid-load, full of clothes and soap and water. You would not believe how much water those things can hold. If your washing machine breaks mid-load, you will find out that they can hold buckets upon buckets upon buckets of water. I took the washing machine apart and ordered the part that is most likely broken (I don’t have a tester thingy to be certain) and tomorrow I shall fix the washing machine. Hear me roar.
Poppy is pacing around whining because normally during the day when she is not perched on the back of the sofa looking out the window like a cat, she is sleeping in the laundry room on the sunny patch on the floor. Only today, there are laundry machine parts all over the laundry room, and there is no place for her to lay down. It is very distressing to her. So she comes over and stares at me and whines, which is very distressing to me.
She has found a patch of sun in the kitchen now, right next to me, that did not pass muster the first time she tried it. She slipped into the laundry room again, and finding that the situation in there had not improved, has decided this spot is as good as it’s going to get, and has relented. Her feet are curled under and the sunlight bounces off her whiskers. Around me all I hear is her slow, deep breathing and the steady hum of the refrigerator.
It was a ten hour drive to the beach. A Ten.Hour.Drive.
That was sucky.
And as we entered the Outer Banks, mother nature blessed us with a downpour. Wind. Torrential rains.
So to recap: trapped in car for ten hours; rain.
Then we arrived at the house. We let the kids run around for an hour and then tucked them snuggly in their beds. Luckily, we brought the pack-n-play for Ella, because the crib that was supplied was not assembled. Isn’t that useful? So I layed Ella in the pack-n-play, and closed the door. Fifteen seconds later I could hear her screaming at the door. Because she just climbed right on out of that pack-n-play. The pack-n-play was also, clearly, very useful.
So she slept in the bed with me that night. And to be honest, I’m rather thankful for that crib being disassembled that night. Sleeping with that little redheaded cherub by my side was not really restful. But lying there watching her sleep and feeling her curled up next to me was nothing short of wonderful.
I awoke to the sound of that little girl, two inches from my face, saying “Mommy. Hi.” She makes my heart come all undone…
Then The Man put the crib together.
And it rained some more. And was cloudy.
But on the third day, the clouds parted and the sun fell on our faces and warmed the sand. We did very little but play all day. And eat ice cream. All week.
(Look at his round belly…he’s just all sorts of cute…)
This week was sun-bleached hair, freckles, pink shoulders and pink cheeks.
And sandy little feet.
And building sandcastles. (Which William takes very.very.seriously. Don’t mess with his castles).
We collected shells. We chased sandpipers.
We played in the surf.
(There may have been a couple tiny little tantrums. Or something. But whatever.)
Four little children, drawn to the swirls of foamy surf. Squealing with delight and fear and anticipation of the sea, crashing on their little feet.
This past week at the shore reminded me what childhood should consist of…sunshine, sandcastles, ice cream, laughter.
It was lovely.