Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Three Good Things

Here we are, into that magical fairyland season called Sprummer. When the grass fools you into thinking it'll be this nice all summer long, when the daffodils and irises bow out, and roses make their stunning debut, unfurling their fantastic faces. When the mountains open their doors for a cool respite from the heat instead of a menacing dare during the wintertime. When bikes are left unlocked and everything in general lets its guard down. When the days begin to stretch their restricted bodies, and the sun takes center stage for what is sure to be an impressive and in-your-face show.  

These days are glorious and I capture them by heightening every thing that happens within their brief and hallowed duration. For now, I have three things.  They stand out to me and as beacons representing a short period of time that may otherwise go unnoticed, unremembered, let these three things serve, years down the road from now, to highlight a moment and make a memory for myself.  

Like many people, we've decided we're going to make some improvements on the yard and like it.  This is a bit difficult for me but even I have come around because I really like the changes, I like the feeling of having some control in these wildly capricious times, and frankly, it gives us something to do.  I also see the benefits of physical work for the boy.  He's started mowing the lawn, much to my delight. All of my memories come flooding back to me of learning to mow. My dad doing the edges first. Him showing me where to line up the wheels so they overlap with the line I already made. Me being confused about which wheels to overlap (somehow) so sometimes I'd almost completely mow the same line except for a few inches of yet-to-be-cut grass.  Losing the line entirely and wandering into no man's un-mown land.  Forgetting to let go when I wanted to stop. It's all so entertaining to me to watch him and turns out, he's awesome at it.  Little champ.  

1. Projects. In earlier spring, Sean planted some lilacs in the corner of the house. Lilacs are the best and I have fond memories of discovering about a million more species of them whilst living in New York. They created a fragrant fantasy land, albeit so very fleeting, which is also something I love about them and which adds to their magic.  If magic just stayed, would it be magical?   We then took some ancient paver stones I took from my parents' house when they renovated their kitchen last year and took out the old patio wall from 1972.  We turned them into a pathway.  And then we took a look at our cement square, a pathetic excuse for a patio, and decided to get some more pavers and extend that to something a bit more substantial.

The square we were to fill was about 10x10 feet and first we had to dig a big pit.  Dig, dig, dig.  At first, Julian loved it. He looked forward to it every day, when he and Sean would go out in the evening and just dig.  He's a little weird about manual labor.  He can really get into it sometimes.  And then his interest waned because the dirt here is terrible: dry and jam packed with rocks, and it didn't take long before the labor became quite... laborious.  I joined in and we dug a little every day, every day feeling like we hardly made progress.  Sean and I would take turns using the shovel and the pick-ax and, as is natural, it didn't take me long to get my complain on.  And you know, I realized something.  I really enjoy complaining.  And if done right, it can be fun and funny for those around you.  I'm embracing it. 
 I think it is really fun, and frankly, it's the kind of worker I am, especially when the work is ridiculous, as this was. After comments of "prison labor" and singing "Every town..." from Robin Hood, other jokes would spring forth out of the dead, dry, impenetrable dirt, like pick ax jokes.  "I'm gonna pick your ax!"  And wondering how to phrase variations of it-- "pick-axed?"  It was a new experience and entertaining, and will mark my remembrance of this particular time. 

2.  Every day of every new year I grow to love birds more and more.  Ever since that college Appreciation of Nature class where the required textbook was a Bird Field Guide book and we had to go out and identify a million birds as an assignment.  Then I sat at the window in my Bklyn apartment for hours and became intimately aware of different birds in my area which I loved.  And then I moved here where I lived in a bird sanctuary for a year, particularly owls on the first night of my stay in the country, as well as the robins who nested in a nearby tree and let me see the tufts of baby heads whereupon I died of happiness.   When I was young and out weeding, I'd often hear a bird I decided to adopt and at times could mimic pretty well. Hey! I just found out it's the Black-capped Chickadee. Yay.  In my heart, it's still my bird, and when I hear it sing I call back. 

There are two other birds I've worked on mimicking-- the Mourning Dove and the Eurasian Collared Dove.  They are similar to each other.  If I were to describe their songs and tones using numbers and spaces, the Mourning Dove would look like this:  1 2 1...1...1.   The other one is 1 1...1.  1 1.... 1.   I used to think that Mourning Dove could be a loon but then I figured out I was wrong. And then I looked up what a loon sounds like and played a video on Youtube of a loon in Minnesota (that I happen to know is the official state bird. Thanks, 5th grade state report that I inexplicably chose to do on Minnesota) that was so startlingly beautiful, Sean and I were both significantly shook up. Here's a link.   And to answer your question, yes, I would go to Minnesota just to hear this. And cry.

Whenever I respond to these birds, which I try my very best to do, I always imagine them being super confused and wondering what's wrong with this poor friend.  They keep calling and respond back but they're a little like, ??? "That bird is not ok."  And it makes me laugh.  And then for fun, I imagine the bird I'm responding to actually being another human who also thinks they're talking to birds and we're both just making cupped-hand bird noises to each other, feeling really cool and super connected to nature.  

3. Julian is really smart and knows a lot of things.  So when he doesn't know things and doesn't know it, like mispronounces words or just has false ideas or displays sweet innocence, I pause a moment to relish that a bit before I decide what to do next.   

One example has to do with the digging of the pit.  Sean told me when they were digging, they'd take turns shoveling dirt into the wheelbarrow which would then be driven to the fence and dumped to create what would eventually be a raised flower bed along the whole fence. Every time the wheelbarrow was full, Julian would say "I think it's time to take a dump,"  or "do you need to take a dump?"  And it was just his way of phrasing that, never having heard it before to mean anything else, and it was so hilarious and pure, Sean and I decided to just let it be and adopted it ourselves.  "I think I need to take a dump.  Whoops-pause! Let's take a dump."   One day he may learn for himself what this means and he may not even connect it to this moment but right now, it is golden for me. 

Another example is when he was telling me about some book he was reading.  He gets these weird books from the little free library and it's either like, weird inappropriate teen books or child-rearing books.  "teaching your child to be financially responsible"  No Cry Sleep Solution.  He really wants them. He's so weird.  But I think the one he had been reading was I Know What You Did Last Summer. He was telling me about it and said, "so these kids had been smoking a pot..."   And he said that a few times and it was so adorable how he was probably trying to appear in-the-know, but clearly wasn't, quite.  I think he eventually outright asked me what that was and I told him but when he first said it I just played a long-- "Ooo.. smoking a pot.  Bad kids."  

And these are the three things that have stood out to me lately.  Truth be told, I bet there are plenty more and if I really want to do right by way of remembrance and my life, I'd write them all down and add them to this collection. But for now, I will let these three stand by themselves and I will read about them later and I will smile every time.  

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