Last year winter seemed to drag on forever. Strings of weeks of deep, negative temperatures and a debilitating first trimester weighed me down with a force so strong I wondered if I would ever hoist myself out. This year, while it is still early, feels so utterly different. Yesterday my Monday walk reminded me of how true this is.
It was a lazy snow fall, one you never noticed was there at all until six inches had already fallen. The blanket of white was so stark and wide, matching the sky with such exactness that my depth perception was all out of whack as I tromped up and down the rolling hills. I had to stare down at the snow balls flipping off the toes of my boots drawing lines in the fluff a few feet ahead of me, just so I didn’t stumble. There are 360 degree panoramas at the top of every hill, and when the sky is so grey and misty with a fresh set of flakes falling, and your eyelashes are coated in ice or sweat or a combination of the two, it so hard not to just whoop out loud. Because really, it is that good.
My mind slows on these walks. I start off with a stream of wonderings, ones I thoroughly enjoy I might add.. what to place in the garden this spring, when to order those meat birds, how many blueberry bushes our growing family requires, where I might build an arch, how to graft an apple tree… and slowly, slowly I slip into a stomp, crunch, stomp, crunch rhythm that places me in the exact moment where I stand. I get so hot I pull up the sleeves on my wool sweater to feel the cold on my bare arms. The baby on my back is a heater good enough for most any temperature. It’s so quiet out there. So quiet I can hear my boys playing outside with the babysitter, echoing off the sides of these hills, for almost the entirety of my walk. But just barely. I am far enough away, to really feel away. This is what I crave. A bit of time where I answer to no one. And what I get from these walks is even more than that. I am permeated with a love for this land. A desire to stay here, perhaps forever. I become excited about my life in a way that the daily grind of diapers and meals and bottomless cups of coffee can’t give me.
Walking one day a week, just one hour. It is not much, and if my sweet little babysitter wasn’t so crazy about horses I would have her come every day. But, it is something. Mondays. They bring a lightness to my week that I can transfer over and over again all week.
And to bring a cuteness factor to this post…. I present you a sweet little Jasper Ray
These boys. Their energy is unprecedented in my life. I have been friends with boys and I have lived with boys, but never have I experienced this raw, bouncing off the wall from sun up to sun down excitement. Their wills are extreme, they are boisterous and loud, disorganized, chaotic, and well plain old crazy.
But they have a sweetness that can’t be denied. A passion for life that is honestly enviable. I admire them with all my heart.
Sometimes when asked by a stranger once again (and again, and again, and again) with a bit of shock in their eyes what its like to have all boys, or if I wanted a girl, or how do I manage (or the plethora of other slightly uncomfortable questions) I am taken aback. Society wants me to have a little girl in my life. The general whole of the people I meet mention it some how, but me?
I couldn’t imagine life any other way.
I always joke that I don’t want to give up my throne any how, but the truth is these boys steal the spot light despite my obvious difference.
They are the light in my soul.
His moves just can’t be denied, our boy has a passion for dance. Though is confidence keeps him behind the curtain for a crowd when it is just the five of us, or in the structure of his class, he moves to the music and you can feel the joy shoot out from those jazz hands. He loves it. Yesterday he started his first only tap class, previously he had been in a mixed dance class with very little kids, and oh my the excitement. Onto the big room coated in mirrors! Girls in their tutus! “Big” kids! He laced up his shoes with pride, took note of the classy outfits and scampered off on to the shiny, slippery floor. He lined up with a seriousness I haven’t seen from him in his five years. Of course my heart burst with pride at his bravery. The kid did all right too. And as only a mama can, I pumped him up with compliments that floated him all the way home. We decided our new bamboo floors lining our craft room (so its been officially deemed) can now double as a tapping room, rather than banishing him to the concrete basement to let those feet fly. I haven’t broken the news yet, but I am quite sure it will be greeted with a whole lot of noise.
Wish me luck.
With my toes thick into the silky ridges of low tide, staring out at the sparkly blue sea dotted with spinnakers and tankers and kayaks, it occurred to me that they were here in the same location, just as they were close to thirty years ago. The same spot, the same toes. I think about the number of fingers and toes in my family strangely often. One hundred. It seems unbelievable really. One hundred wiggling, working digits between us. I trimmed the littlest set yesterday for the first time, somehow filled with dirt (how a newborn gets dirty nails is beyond me, but its true- he did) and I counted them all again in my mind.
Digging up clams for the first time yesterday, my biggest little boy searched my memory to find out about the first time I ever tunneled down for the razored edge of those sand dwellers. After a few successful chases, we walked on and I recalled and he took note. It was one of those moments you dream about when you imagine yourself all grown with children. Something so special, you know even as a little child, you should teach this to somebody, some day.
I always search my boys faces for signs of their ancestry; A grandmothers chin, a fathers lips, my very own eyes… and sometimes I pause and wonder about these fingers and toes of theirs too. Not so much in what they look like, but what they will do, and what they will see. For now, while they are little, and here on the land that was my childhood, they will do what I do. Or what I have done. But already in the rolling hills of their Vermont life I have seen them scour the forest in a way I never would have, and sink those chubby hands into mud I couldn’t dare, and pluck up insects I can only pretend to not fear, and squat beside farm animals I only read about as a child.
I was always under the impression that watching a child grow couldn’t possibly be as interesting as being the grower yourself, but it turns out it is. Witnessing this fascination is something to behold. I never could have imagined it to be so.
With school days upon us, and the whole lot of my family continuing our days just as before, I find myself answering a lot of questions from loving friends and family, and curious strangers about what’s next. My oldest is now five, and though he misses the official cutoff for kindergarten by one whole day, the most common thing said to this little boy is, “Are you starting kindergarten this year?”. He usually looks up to me to respond appropriately, and despite my earlier pledge to proudly announce our intentions to home school, I find myself continuing to mumble the lame excuse about the cut off day falling before his birthday. And while my statement is factual, it makes me feel like a coward, and that I am not showing my boys the commitment we do indeed have to homeschooling. Because the truth is, I am really proud of our days. They are magical and pure, and full of inspiring, real life learning. Why the hestiation in explaining this?
I suppose a bit of it comes from the faces I have gotten when I have put my heart on my sleeve and told the plain old truth. But the majority of it just comes from fear of recieving them again. This fear. It seems the dark cloud of it gets in the way of so much, for so many of us. The fear of judgement, the fear of failure, the fear of regret. These things are real, and not isolated to me or to homeschooling, or to anything.
But taken day by day, it can be mitigated and directed. Taken one conversation at a time, and one child hurdled past the first year of “would be heading to school” before the other, I am quite sure it will get easier.
For now we will just continue to study the world with intention and see where it takes us. So, with that being said, happy back to school week, or not back to school week. How about, happy kids or happy parents or just happy September. I like the sound of that.