Tag Archives: autumn

Letter to Thing 3

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Dear Thing 3,

It never fails. On the days we walk to school and I wish I had my camera, I never do.

Today was such a treat to be with you. Do you remember? The sun, in its autumnal slant, so surgical and bright, like a laser, but weaker than in summer was still strong as there were no clouds. Frost had cured on the grass blades and the top cover of the fallen leaves we encountered on our walk out to school today and you asked me, “Where does the frost come from? It’s so sparkly.”

“It’s like a billion diamonds on the ground.” I said.

“Just for us,” you said.

“It’s from the moisture in the air; the dew. It freezes on the leaves and in the morning, we get diamonds.”

“They don’t last long, these diamonds. There are so many of them! It’s like a field of them!” you said and then fell silent. We stopped to look at a few. We moved our heads around to see more sparkles.

You will be 10 tomorrow.

It seems like every milestone is a new milestone in your life. That doesn’t make sense. I guess I just mean that it’s all so much. You’re the last one.

10.

Ten.

Two complete hands. The end of the two hands.

Before we left, I considered my camera / phone. I decided to leave it at home, amidst the breakfast smells of pancake and coffee. I prefer to be present, free of it. As much as you see me tinkering with it, T3, I really am better off without it.

“How many days are in a year? 365? I thought that there were only 364 days,” you asked as I helped you with your pilled black knit gloves today, the ones I bought in bulk at the Amish auction all those years ago with our friend, “RICK!”

“Well, the going rate these days, is 365. I believe leap year makes it 366, but I will admit my facts on that are loose, so I’m not entirely sure although I do believe 365 is the predominant number. Ready?” I asked, holding open the door, but thinking to myself back at my own childhood and remembering the 364/365 proposition more than 365/366.

“Can I have lemon cake and chocolate frosting?” you asked.

“Why? And WHAT?! Who eats that?! Only goofballs…” I said.

“This goofball wants that,” you said.

I looked at you funny, pretending to be offended by the mention and I could see your smile fade. You were a little crestfallen. The joke had gone too far. You asked me, “Mom… can’t I have a lemon cake with chocolate frosting?”

“Absolutely you can.” I said and your smile returned.

On the way down the street you asked me, “What’s attachment? What did they mean about ‘not getting attached’ to that otter in the video?”

You were talking about “Otter 501,” the story about a stray newborn otter in Monterey, California.

“It means no eye contact between the trainers and the otter; that’s why they wore those welder’s masks and ponchos, so the otter couldn’t see their eyes. Did you notice they didn’t talk to her either? She could learn their voices and prefer one trainer over another trainer. In animals, it’s called ‘imprinting’ but in humans, because we believe we’re so different than animals, we call it ‘attachment.’ It’s basically falling in love with the otter, which could get in the way with her ability to go back to the ocean.”

“I would be attached anyway to that otter,” you said. “Helmet or not. I love her from my tv.”

Speaking of attachment, we didn’t take your dog with us today. He wasn’t ready to go. When I returned, he seemed fine with the temporary abandonment.

10.

It all goes too fast. Way too fast. I want it to slow down.

I was so compelled by the frost on the leaves, and my urge to remember this moment, that when I came home I picked up my camera and went back out to try to capture some of the sparkle but suspecting all the time that it would be the inverse of what we hear about supernatural phenomena: that it’s not viewable to the naked eye, or in this instance the iPhone. I suspect that I will need my big, actual camera to take proper pictures of the sparkly leaves. But here are a few unsparkly leaves…

there is no sparkle, but there is beauty in it; look at those crystals! "They're free! They don't cost anything!" you said when you saw them.

there is no sparkle, but there is beauty in it; look at those crystals! “They’re free! They don’t cost anything!” you said when you saw them.

Here’s another cool frosty leaf:

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I want you to live life beautifully, T3. I want you to ask questions, always.

Do you remember overhearing me and Dad talking about “the silent treatment” this morning? You asked me, “What is the silent treatment?” and I told you. Then you asked me why I was talking about it and I told you. You asked me, “Why would anyone do that? Why not just talk about your feelings? We don’t all have to agree…” and we talked about that. Then you came to a conclusion all by yourself when you said, “Well, giving the silent treatment is cruel.”? My heart swelled when you said that. “It’s easier said than done, to not give the silent treatment, bud…” and you didn’t agree.

Life has miracles and wondrous moments happening right in front of us every day, all the time! There is no reason to think it is boring, we just have to be willing to open our eyes. You’re pretty good at that already; it’s just that as we age, we tend to forget those things. I hope you never do.

As I ascended the hill on my second walk back home this morning:

This is a very nice way to start your day...

This is a very nice way to start your day…

I saw this. I was so glad I went back out to try to take some sparkle pics.

the leaf blowing…

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it all seems so ordinary… no big deal…

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but it’s like a dance to me. the leaves fly up and then they waft down. they fly up and roll and curl and flip. sure, it’s a man working a leaf blower, but the LEAVES, T3… watching them. that.

Watching the leaves billow and plume … it could do it all day. It seems weird, I guess, to be so enraptured by such an everyday thing, leaf blowing… your mom’s eccentric views, but to me it’s like a ballet between the gardener and the leaves. It’s poetry in motion.

The leaf-blowing man must’ve thought I was with the NSA or something. I hope I didn’t worry him.

When I came back home, the house was warm and expectant. It still smelled of maple syrup, coffee and pancakes. The dishwasher was still running and the lights were on under the cabinets. Laundry, as usual, was waiting to be folded or put away. I came to the conclusion yesterday, T3, that smells tell me how busy I’ve been. If I smell laundry in the dryer, pumpkin bread in the oven and tea in my mug, I’ve had a busy day. These are the smells of progress.

I didn’t want to waste a moment, I had these thoughts fresh on my mind. I find that it’s hard for me to concentrate these days; I’m still so sad about Mimi. So I wanted to get these words off to you as soon as I walked in.

After I took off my hat and gloves and put my coat away, I turned my way into my office / guest room and Gandalf, that massive gray barn cat of ours leapt off the bed and scurried out the door; I could hear his back claws grab whatever they could of the carpeting to ensure a speedy getaway as he careened and serpentined out of the room. It was like he was saying, “Oh crap! Busted!” (Because I can’t stand them when they’re on our beds.) He and his sister are irritated with me: they are both as big as watermelons and I’ve cut back their kibble rations to half of what they’re used to. Lean times ahead for the kitties, I’m afraid. I know they’re not ballooning up from us; it’s all the chipmunks they’ve hunted.

Well, even though tomorrow is your 10th birthday, I’ll tell you a secret that your auntie T told me one day when I turned 45: it’s not really your 10th birthday. It’s the first day of your 11th year. When you were born, that was the first day of your first year. The last day of your first year was the day before your first birthday. You’d been “1” all along. When you turned 1, it was the first day of your second year… and so it goes. So today… is the last day of your tenth year.

I love you, Thing 3. Happy birthday.

Mom

Angry Rain, OldMan Car, and Tiger Mascot Suits

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I’m so excited that many of you (who might be new to my blog) came by this week to see what Sharyn and Kelly expressed about breast cancer and the beauty of fall earlier this week. Those posts have been shared a LOT (like more than anything I’ve ever written, which leaves me scratching my tilted head’s furrowed brow…), so if you haven’t seen them, please check them out — other people were clearly impressed and you’ll see why if you didn’t read them yet.

I’m not gonna talk about the debate last night other than to say this: Obama needed coffee and Mittney needed a collar. I’ve never seen a sitting president look so uninterested in repeating his term and I’ve never seen an opponent so hard pressed to take it from him.

Tuesday it rained most of the morning here. And I don’t mean the morning that required sunlight. I mean the morning that began at midnight and ended at noon. Most of the rain was average, normal lovely rain. In fact, the rain we woke to was that kind. When it was time to leave for our daily walk to school however, the rain had asserted itself into a demonic and dominating death rain. The kind of rain that makes you afraid it will personally injure you when it makes impact on you. The kind of rain that mocks umbrellas as it shreds them. Yeah, that kind of rain. So the kids were reluctant to walk in it; the Murph definitely was not interested and because we were all standing inside the house yelling at each other about the rain and looking out the storm window at its fury, the BreadWinner said he’d take the boys to school in his OldMan Car.

Phew!

The OldMan Car is a Toyota Avalon. He loves it because it’s massive, larger than a BMW 7-series (and boy, nothing like spouting off that statistic impresses the hip-replacement population, if they can hear you). I say, why wait? Why not get the most popular vehicle for all post-cardiac ablation patients while you’re still in your 40s? Let’s just go ahead and shop ourselves crazy for canes, triple-strength reading glasses on chains and glucosamine. No matter. It’s what he drives. And he likes it. Truth be told, it’s very comfortable and surprisingly quick and nimble. Like Geriatric Jack-be-Quick on a juicer binge.

Here is an OldMan Car in its natural habitat: tropical golf resort. Note: the graying temples on the man walking in and the slight middle-aged paunch and obligatory short hair on the aging woman before him, who must be resort staff or his great aunt. Our house looks nothing like this and our OldMan Car has scratches from errant trash cans, bicycle handles and scooters.

When I’m driving my tank around town with the Things, we see endless varieties of silver foxes barely visible above the steering wheels in OldMan Cars of all vintages. Just one more: the Toyota Avalon is usually the car your dead great grandmother leaves you in her will because her husband left it to her when he died. On the golf course. In his madras shorts. And the white kilties.

Unless… you’re the guy who picks one out in the parking lot of the local dealership when you’re 40.

Anyway, the kids piled in and enjoyed the ride in the massive back seat which reclines, which is a great feature for when you get a case of the vapors and you need to lie down when your smelling salts bring you back. HAY! I’m not ageist – I’m just sayin’ let’s give this middle-aged thing a shot before I have to go shopping for lace doilies, stacked heels and loose stockings, k?

When it was time for me to go to yoga, I maintained my fear of the intense rain. When yoga was over, it was still raining although it was more of an agitated rain than rage rain. So I braved it and went to Wegman’s where I love to shop and I bought food that makes me feel like how Jesus used to eat: hummus, pita, veggies, fruit and olives. Note to self (which I’ve ignored plenty): don’t shop when hungry.

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

Yesterday was National Walk to School Day (NWSD). Our school started participating in the event back in 2008 when RICK! was PTA president and I was her major-domo. Our school mascot is a tiger. The school didn’t have a tiger suit, it spent its funds on education. Whatever…. I thought that was a crime, so with our PTA budget in hand, I proposed we spend $150 to buy a cartoony tiger suit and giant styrofoam tiger head I saw on eBay from an anonymous woeful factory in China. Proposal approved, suit arrived in less than 10 days. The children love “TC” the tiger and filling the suit with a living human has usually been easy. TC is a main staple of the NWSD event. He meets kids at the top of the hill, high-paws them, waves and poses for pictures.

This is me in the mascot suit the day it arrived: the Friday before Columbus day 2008. It’s from an album titled, “TC Tiger Visits School and Molly Loses 4# in the Process.”

I’ve been in that suit a dozen times. When you first start out, the craziest part about it is that when you’re in it you make all these “Hey, friend!” and “Hi little guy, you’re so cute!” smiling faces which is intentionally lovely yet practical idiocy because your own human, emoting, compassionate and understanding face CAN’T BE SEEN by the children. And some kids are freakin’ terrified of that cat and so when you crouch down and purr with your soft human face saying, “It’s OK! I won’t bite! I’m a nice kitty… here: pat my paw, touch my tail or play with my whiskers!” a small child thinks you’re growling, crouching to kill, taking a swipe, trying to whip him with your tail or prepping to dig your 3-inch teeth into her face.

You also have to hold your head inside the head a little off kilter, sort of like you’re Thurston Howell III or another stuck-up jerk because you can’t see what’s directly in front of you from your face to about 4 feet ahead of you. Conveniently, other than the possibility of passing out from inhaling its own carbon dioxide, if a person in a mascot suit wanted to tie one on just before appearing and ended up bumping into things he could easily blame the obfuscated line of sight as the problem.

I remember the day it arrived. RICK! and I couldn’t wait to go up and show the principal. School had already dismissed for the weekend. So we were cruising around, I walked into some books in the library and almost doubled over a couch in the reading zone… After we left the library, this very young teacher came around the bend of our school and encountered me head on. She SCREAMED. I was all, “What’s wrong? It’s me! It’s Molly Field! PTA Vice Prez… Hey… Hey! HEY!!!” and waving my paws, reaching out to her and trying to reason with her… she actually ran away. RICK! was behind me and she had to calm down the teacher who was nearly in tears and I ended up walking down a ramp into a pile of books and chairs that the custodians were moving because a pencil sharpener exploded all over a classroom. That teacher since left the school. Not that day, but, you know, that year.

Some people.

Typical of me, I took this mascot role very seriously: I Googled “how to be a mascot” and watched YouTube videos about it, but it never worked out. I ran out of gas because I didn’t have an occasion to really perfect the craft nor would the PTA cover costs for me to go to San Diego to learn how to mascot like a boss. I was the mascot in that suit for most of its first year and I enjoyed every minute of it, even though I sweat like a … well, like a 41-year-old mother of three in a $150 Chinese-made polyester mascot suit. It has been a while since I turned over the reins for TC and many people have worn it. I’m in no rush to return to that suit: You will find me robbing a bank to pay for a Slurpee addiction the next time I wear that suit.

NWSD weather has usually been sunny and crisp.

This year’s weather was an exception in that it was foggy, but a wonderful morning.

They say of Washington, D.C.-area weather, “If you don’t like it, give it an hour…” as storms come up randomly sometimes. It will be hot some days and a crisp 50˚ the next day in October . This is what autumn means to me, it’s “summerpause” in that the season is all about transition, slowing down, decomposing and resting to gear up again. So the walk to school was foggy and although I didn’t bring my camera, I did get to experience the visual gift of the fog when the Murph and I walked after dropping off the Things.

I encountered a gorgeous spider web, thankfully nowhere near my intended path, occupied by a robust auburn-toned arachnid whose leg-span made it about the size of a silver dollar. (Shaking off the shivers I still get when I think about it…) Had the rivulets (isn’t that a great word?) not formed on the web I would have never caught the image. The moisture accumulated enough to outline a perfect and massive 2’x2′ web perched about 6′ high from the dewey grass below. Spiders amaze me: they build every day, sometimes several times a day. I know that when I look at a spider like that they know my misery when I have to fold laundry.

After taking that in and saying a small prayer in gratitude that the gorgeous, industrious thing was nowhere near me as spiders normally make me run for Indiana screaming, I continued on our stroll. As we crossed a wooden footbridge, I saw a small conference of recently fallen red maple leaves in striking contrast to the blacktop ahead on the path. They had seen an early spring, a powerfully hot summer and were now turning their shop signs to “Closed for the Season” and were clearly ready to retire. I have come to think of autumn leaves falling as nature’s confetti, “Party’s on! We’re done feeding you humans clean air for a while… you’re good ’til spring. Just don’t screw up the ozone layer any further, k? It was hotter than you know what last summer…”

After that, we cruised by some ponds in our ‘hood (I will acknowledge that where I live is pretty idyllic once you forget about the massive 7-lanes of careening traffic about 100yards from my house) which had been cleared of their overgrowth. We saw more frogs, turtles and ducks hanging out and doing their slowdown thing. One painted box turtle we saw was in a shell that was turning yellow … do turtles change their colors too or do you think this one was ready to pack it up and call it a life? I’ll have to look that up.

These images are not things I take lightly or consider glib. In my sage maturity I’ve been socked with an almost aggressive case of EWYLDSCD:  “Enjoy What You Love and Don’t Sweat Crap that Doesn’t Matter to You” syndrome. That means that sometimes the best parts of life are the quiet things; the things that don’t talk back, that don’t “be mean” to me, the things that don’t cause chaos. I love my team, I wouldn’t change a thing in my life, but if I didn’t have nature and her blessings around me, I’d not be nearly as copacetic as I am. Nature and her beauty has softened me. (I know… that’s tragic.)

One of the best and most heart-warming images I also didn’t photograph yesterday was the moment when I saw the parent who’d volunteered to be TC meet his wife and their dog around one of the ponds after NWSD duty. Of course he had the head off, or else he’dve ended up in the pond or on a random tot-lot along the way. He was carrying the giant TC head under his arm, like a massive basketball. They have a big fluffy dog. He’s an army officer, the dad. He recently returned from a tour overseas for the past year defending our freedom. I believe he was in Afghanistan. His wife is a very funny and kind woman. Their dog noticed him first, in the odd get-up and started to bark happily at his master’s approach. The fog was just starting to thin by this point and I was on another footbridge about 150 feet away, across the pond’s glass-like stillness with their reflections dancing on the surface. He bent down to pat his dog and embraced his wife. I was quiet and Murphy stood still with me and I thought, “Holy Sweet God, whatta guy. He came back from hell on earth wearing a uniform every day for my country only to come back and shortly don another uniform for his kids and their schoolmates.” TC never looked better or meant so much to me than at that moment.

Thank you.

Guest Blog: DeBie Hive’s Photographic Eye Turns to Fall

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Guest Blog: DeBie Hive’s Photographic Eye Turns to Fall

Today’s post is by my friend, Kelly DeBie, goddess blogger over at DeBieHive. I “met” her in May and we became good writerly friends and then just good friends. She has four kids, loves to write and loves to shoot photos. She admits she’d been neglecting the latter and so I asked her to guest blog for me – as a photographer. She did and we, my friends, are the very lucky witnesses. Without further ado, here’s Kelly…

What Fall Means

When Molly first asked me to do a guest post for her, I was flattered.  When she asked me to make it a photographic post with the theme she selected, I was ecstatic.

Fall has always been my favorite time of year, for as long as I can remember.  I’ve always loved the changing colors, the smell of the air, the sound of the leaves rustling.  I can spend all day just marveling at the trees and sky this time of year.

Fall brings cups of hot tea and tiny marshmallows in cocoa.  Soups and stews and everything pumpkin.

Since becoming a mother, Fall has meant apple picking and tractor riding.  It’s meant countless hurried mornings as we rush to a soccer field somewhere.   It’s meant months and months of planning and scheming to assemble our elaborate family costumes.  We really are those people.

And we love every single second of it.

Fall means reflecting on the beauty that surrounds us. Stop and be still long enough to see it.

Fall means dynamic contrast.

Fall means constant change and perpetual motion.

Fall means reminders of love from those who’ve left us.

Fall means clutching coffee cups on the sidelines on cold mornings and cheering from under long shadows.

Fall means long sleeves tucked over tiny fingers.

Fall means foggy mornings on the farm.

Fall means an obligatory trip to the mountains. Or two.

Fall means blank canvases.

Fall means harvest.

Fall means turning your face toward the sun.

Fall means finally coming into bloom.

Fall means running, leaping, and catching air.

Fall means we can be anything we want.

Fall means toes in boots peaking out from jeans.

Fall means family photo shoots.

Fall means getting lost together and finding a way out. Together.

Fall means glorious sunsets.

Fall means spooky stories and moonlit nights.

 


Fall means Winter is coming.
Maybe even before you’re ready.

If you think Kelly’s impressive with a camera, you should read how she rocks the prose with a “pen.” Check out her writing at www.debiehive.blogspot.com.

Thank you.