This morning is my cry time. It just hit me hard that this time I looked forward to so much is ending already. One daughter has left already, in the dark, on the trip to the airport three hours away. The other one leaves this afternoon. We have spent a week together, wearing ourselves out with talk, food, and as much activity as we could pack into a week of weird winter weather.
I am not put off by stillness or being alone, but the contrast is so vivid right now that I can’t not think about it. I’m looking at the special things they bought to eat and drink, but didn’t finish. I’m putting away the last puzzle we agonized over before we found out that one piece was missing. I’m trying desperately to think of what adventure I can plan next to mask this feeling of missing people I love.
I want to hug my kids again and tell them how much they are loved, and how much I hope they will always love each other. I want them to see how beautiful they are, how unique, how disarming and precious in those moments when they struggle.
There are always a few struggles even in the coming together. This winter gathering seemed characterized by the words “awkward” and “ bizarre” which we heard a lot, and said a lot in our conversations. Even in our commonness we are awkward and bizarre, and memorable because of it.
We are family, with the chance to display a special kind of love to the world. God help us to do do that.
We are still at Smith Meadow, and tonight we had our first dinner guests. The menu was my secret recipe Macaroni and Cheese with a salad, watermelon and raspberry cream cheese pie for desert. Brother Dennis and sis-in-law Mary Pat came out to join us (they brought the pie)(and it was good!). This was such a treat for Dennis because he misses out on family dinners now that he isn’t comfortable at the condos.
It’s mighty hot here, for Wisconsin anyway, and we ate outside on our deck which was cooler than in the trailer. It was early enough that the mosquitoes weren’t bad yet, the meadow was half sun and half shade, and the birds were having their final sing for the day. It was remarkably comfortable. We didn’t hurry it.
As we were finishing we heard a tractor approaching and, sure enough, it had a rake attached to prep the downed hay for baling. The surprise was that it was driven by a 15 year old young woman (in a dress), a Mennonite farm girl working to make hay with her dad. I didn’t get a picture of that huge rake and tractor as she ran it around the meadow – a missed opportunity for sure. We watched in awe, and clapped when she left. She acknowledged with a smile and a wave. She was one of eight children from the farm adjoining our land. My brother said he wouldn’t be surprised if she came back with the baler before it was dark.
Sure enough, more tractor noises approached, preceded this time by an SUV driven by a mom with her four children in the back. The tractor and attached baler came next driven by the father with his one year old son on his lap. They start them young.
It didn’t take long for the family to leave the car and come sit on the deck with us. The children were such happy, farm savvy, healthy looking and enthusiastic young people that I kind of fell in love with them, quickly.
The eight year old boy saw the baler stop and immediately announced that his father had put too much hay in and had clogged the baler. He ran out and rescued the one year old while his dad crawled under the baler to fix things. He also gave his opinion on how many bales the meadow would yield and he was right. He had already been around enough hay fields to be knowledgeable.
The girls sat next to me and conversed while we watched the field get processed. They were surprised when I told them many children don’t know what a farm is all about and think milk comes from a supermarket. We talked about cows, coyotes, their toy room, and how nice it was that their grandpa and grandma lived next door. Janessa, who is five, was the most talkative. She could have played Laura in Little House on the Prairie, if she had been an actress. But how much better to live the life and not have to pretend.
The baler got fixed, the field cleaned up right good with three big bales and a smaller one. The show was over. Our new friends got in their Suburban and went home. Night fell and the fireflies came out. Dinner and a show, but much more interesting and fun than the usual outing by that name… just sayin’.
I am very much in touch with my inner child. The “kid” inside loves mystery, loves playing outside, loves activity, adventure and all that stuff I used to be a part of when I was ten. I think that’s why I love playing with kids when I get a chance. I love it when I see them really having fun, being inventive and using their imagination. I especially enjoy when they are old enough to talk about what’s on their mind.
This last week children were visiting next door and I got to play. They were trying their hardest to enjoy the snow but they needed a sled and I had noticed one in the attic. I knew they liked animals so I introduced them to Scruffy the dog and had them join us on a walk. And on their last day to play we walked through the deep snow to see the hidden fort in the brush pile out in the wetlands. We sat inside on the carpet of dried grass and rushes and marveled at the construction, how “cool” it was. Kids love forts.
However, most kids also love playing with fire at some point in their growing up years. And it was this thought that had been bothering my brother since last fall. Knowing that quite a few people, many still school age children, were aware of the fort and its “coolness” he was always imagining the horror it would be to have the fort go up in flames with someone in it. The wood was tinder dry and the winter air had made it even more ready to burn quickly. He decided it was time to return to his original plan of burning the brush pile.
Around suppertime, I went out to say goodbye. I took pictures, crawled inside the fort and sat for a while. I took the small tin that had been left there as a souvenir. There was a little war going on in me – the inner child was having a small tantrum.
Later, with my brother and his wife, I watched the flames eat the brush pile nearly flat. It was a glorious fire, hot and fast. One match to the inside of the fort made quick work of the bed of dried grass and I could understand the wisdom of getting rid of a fire hazard. It was a pretty sweet fort and it was fun just knowing it was there, while it lasted. But it was time. My adult self was glad that potential danger was going to be averted. As an adult I’ve learned to ignore tantrums, even my own.
I’m saving this little tin as inspiration. This is a rather large property with a lot of interesting wooded areas and I’m already getting ideas on where the next fort should be. Long live the inner child. Just sayin’…
Although I am not with her, today I am celebrating the birthday of my daughter, Julia. As I scrolled through multiple pictures of her it was easy for me to recognize why I love her and am blessed to share life with her.
Of course, I am her mom and have a fair amount of bias. There are a lot of “mom pics” in the album I’ve made. But most of the photos are of Julie with the family at large, with her Cambodian “sisters and brothers”, with her clients and their animals, with her own menagerie of four legged friends, Julie being silly, enjoying the outdoors, Julie being Julie. The smile is always present and gives the impression of coming on easily and quickly. She is connected. She is involved.
I’ve seen her when she isn’t at her most glorious, when her dishes aren’t washed, when she doesn’t feel well, when she’s depressed, when she’s overwhelmed with her complex life, having a bad hair day, in trouble at work… all those things that happen to us all. I still like her. I always love her. I admire her resiliency and her ability to work through to better times. If I were a captain choosing my team, I would pick her.
So today, thank you for keeping yourself in my life Julie. I am grateful for your friendship and all the wonderful opportunities you give me to talk, to laugh, to work, TO HAVE FUN! I am forever on your side and you are forever in my prayers.
Yesterday, just by chance (or maybe by design, I don’t know) a lot of children happened into my day. It’s always a blessing and I end up realizing how important it is to have people from a different age group in my life. It’s refreshing and gets me to thinking.
Three young men and their slightly older sister came to visit, along with their mom. I’m always amazed at how this young girl exists calmly and patiently between the world of her rambunctious brothers and the adults that she is beginning to identify with. And oh, how she reminds me of my own childhood with four younger brothers. Girl, I hope your mom reads this to you so you will know that I am praying for you. You will survive.
While we adults talked, the children played in the backyard (crawled through the cat door! Or rather tried to crawl through the cat door…), played with legos and generally entertained themselves quite well. I remarked on this to their mom and she talked about her method of training. When they come to her with complaints of boredom, she suggests they help her clean. Voila! Suddenly they are able to entertain themselves with something else. They often come to her for little snippets of attention which she meters out judiciously but there is none of this hanging on, whimpering, dissatisfied “when are we leaving?” stuff that could keep us ladies from talking. We had a good visit.
And earlier in the day I had an appointment with eight year old GPLL to choose some sewing patterns for herself and her American Girl doll. In the car I usually have the radio playing on a Moody talk station. Sometimes we talk when we are driving around but a lot of the time we are silent. I’m never sure if she is listening to the programming or looking at the “Where’s Waldo?” book I keep in the back seat for her. Yesterday there were some pretty gruesome news stories about the killing of school children in Pakistan, and also a description of the Christmas event as the coming of a “baby born to die”. This last remark caught her by surprise and we had to talk about it.
But my respect for the listening ears and the depth of her understanding came later. We had heard most of one of the half hour long programs and it was closing out as we turned into the parking lot and I shut off the car. I had been concentrating on driving more than listening but evidently that was not the case with my young friend. “That was a good message.” she remarked. Oh really? I should have paid more attention… Again, I’m just sayin’.