Tuesday, April 30, 2013

tell me

The Summer Day

Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

If my life were a puzzle and, in the past, that puzzle has largely been put together, right now I'm feeling like all those little pieces have been lifted by a gusty wind and scattered across creation.  Some were left behind, years ago, in far away places.  But mostly, they've been tossed and flung right here around me.  Most are still within sight.  Some have blown over the fence and into the back forty, some into the neighbor's yard, some are lying in puddles all rain-soaked and swollen, some have been blown into the woods and as we speak are being carried away by curious squirrels and hoarding pack-rats.  Some are gone forever.

Which is all to say that I've been feeling a bit disorganized.  Not in a what's-for-dinner, or have-I-paid-the-bills sort of way; but in a larger, life-trajectory sort of way.  Where are we going?  Where have we been?  What do we want?  What do we need to let go of? How do we want to move in, and affect, this wonderful world?  What kind of movement do we want to own and model for our girls?  Are we there?  Are we getting there?  Are we even on the right road?  As Mary Oliver famously wrote, "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"  Tell me.  

In the last few weeks a conversation has been opened in our house, but it comes in fits and starts and is largely overshadowed by NOW: What's for dinner?  In which bed to plant the parsnips?  Damn, she's funny.  We should write that down.  Was that Hazel?  Hey honey, I put us both in for moose tags this year.  You know.

I have (almost) always been a journaler.  As a kid I had a little pink diary with a lock.  It was a Christmas gift and I wrote in crayon.  Often, my brother picked the lock.  The first several pages are filled, the rest are blank.  But in 1993 when I re-read The Diary of Ann Frank (or perhaps read it for the first time) I became a bonafide journaler.  When Juniper was 3 months old I started this blog and a year later I quit journaling (almost) altogether, only maintaining the act of putting pen to paper very sporadically.  And now that I'm sitting here thinking about it, I could probably chart my lost puzzle pieces back to when I stopped journaling.  How do you know what you want if you don't write it down?  How do you find your honesty?  How do you track your changes?      

So that is my wish, or my goal, for Mother's Day this year: putting pen back to paper.  Thoughts into words.  Dreams into actions.  To keep the conversation rolling.

And now.  Snippets from the past week or so...
:: A laisez-fair afternoon at the river.  Fishing, hooking some, catching none, mostly playing.
^Hazel sporting her mama-made Easter skirt.^

:: Juniper's balance bike is this whole new thing now that she has a basket and a bell.  Truly, it made all the difference.  She glides and strides and coasts and is talking about pedals.  

:: Hazel's "orsie" obsession continues.  She is quite bull-headed.  If you correct her and say no, it's a giraffe (or a zebra, or a pig, or...) she just looks at you, cocks her head and says, Orsie!!
^Also, Hazel Iris nearly always has one bare foot.^

:: I must have been talking about how mama is married to daddy because the conversation proceeded like this: 
Juniper: I want to marry Daddy.  
Me: You can't marry your dad.  But you can marry a friend.  Like Charlie or Harrison or River or Quinn or Victoria.  
Juniper: I want to marry Mama!!  
Me: You can't marry me, I'm you're mama!  
Juniper: I want to marry Hazel.  
Me:  Well...that sounds nice.  
Juniper: Hazey, let's get married.

:: We took care of a friend's dog for a while.  He is 11 and reminded me so much of Osa.  The way he walked, that old dog shuffle.  The little snorts and groans of satisfaction when you scratched his ears.  The way he prowled the kitchen floor in search of fall-out.  The way he pretended to be deafer than he is.      
Juniper immediately took it upon herself to be his primary care-giver.  She gave him his medicine every morning, poured his food and checked his water bowl.  She also utterly harassed him.  
And smothered him with a non-stop barrage of questions.  Hey Pico, hey buddy, we're going to take care of you.  Are you doing okay?  Hey Pico, do you want a snack?  Hey Pico, hey buddy, you need to lay down right here.  Here's your bed.  There.  Now let me get a blanket.  There you go.  There you go Pico boy.  Pico, you need tucked-in.  Then she got out the ukelele and tried to serenade him to sleep.  
Every morning and every post-nap afternoon, Hazel walked into the living room all wide-eyed and eyebrows-raised, pointing and exclaiming, Dog!  Dog!  Dog!  Dog!  As though she hadn't seen a dog in months.  Every. Single. Time.  

:: Lately, when I hear thumping coming from J's room during naptime, this is what I find.  The animal doctor.  Sometimes she has elaborate examination tables set up, complete with an OR spotlight.  The other day, we had a special surgery for her polar bear, giving him stitches or, what Juniper adoringly calls, twitches.  

:: Hazel's been doing this for months but it's still endearing: signing "All done."   
Now we just need to get a photo of her wide-eyed, innocent, pleading look combined with an eyebrow-arched question mark saying, "Nur?" and making the fist-squeeze sign for milk.  She even does it at night: instead of crying, she juts one little fist in the air like an SOS for mama's milk.  

:: A (less than) 24 hour visit from family we'll soon see on another big adventure.  
 ^Cousin Owen showing off his summersaulting skills.^
Sam and Owen pushing Hazel in the swing.  She likes to go as high as you can push and she doesn't like to stop.  

Juniper was getting persnickety about sharing her little blue tent with cousin Sam.  Specifically, she cried and said he couldn't go in.  Two days later at dinner table grace, she says, "I'm thankful for my blue skirt and my princess band-aids and my cousins."  And a little later, "Maybe next time Sammy can come in my blue tent!  And Owen and Hazel and Pico.  And we'll all be together!"    

She's always been a snuggler, but Hazel utterly melts on my husband's brother's shoulder.  There's just something about him.  


  1. Ooh, I can relate to this post. Around the new year, I bought new pens and notebooks and started writing in that way again. It's been really soothing to see my thoughts - nitty gritty, wild, on the verge of unimaginable at this point in my life - back on paper.

    Love Mary Oliver, love that poem. xo

  2. ah that is one of my favourite poems!

    That one bare foot slays me, your kids are adorable.

    Those mountains in the background so amazing. I dream of living somewhere like that.


  3. i just met up with one of my girlfriends that I lived with during college for a few years and she was utterly shocked that I no longer write in a journal. I've got a notebook, but it mostly holds lists and doodles. Maybe I'll copy you and bring back the papering!!

    Sometimes, I swear, it seems like you write what I've been thinking about!

    Keep it up, Mama!! Cheers to getting back to our paper roots!

  4. All good questions, and I believe there will always be more questions that answers. Embrace the questions, and if you re-read through your blog you will see what a beautiful, wild, precious life you are already living. xo

  5. I can so relate to these big questions..we seem stuck in a limbo of big life choices right now, not knowing where the heck we are heading nor comming from..and yes with two little ones as well we get lost in the day to day.
    That was a great post, and love how little Hazel is getting big :)


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