Wednesday, January 30, 2008
This past month I finally asked my mom if I could read it. I am so glad that I did, it is a beautiful story.
To set the scene, it was the seventies. My parents and older brother lived in the woods, in a primitive shelter. There was no running water or electricity.
So here is the beginning of my story... Thanks mom for letting me share it.
The hot sun and heat of this summer remind me of the year my daughter was born, thirty two years ago. I have often thought there may be an invisible map which leads each of us through a series of defining experiences. In retrospect, few would plan a life centered on the primitive conditions in which I lived that long, hot summer.
August in the western United States is a time of dryness, the blackberries are ripening and the hot afternoons are still, even the birds are quiet. The last weeks of my pregnancy were spent in days of collecting water in white plastic buckets, which I covered with cloth, protecting my precious water from dust and bugs. I walked dusty paths worn along the forested hillside to gather firewood. Later in the day I would walk still further down the hill to pick blackberries, a small treasure of sweetness and sugar in an otherwise unvaried diet of rice, potatoes and venison. My four year old son usually ran ahead on the path excited about the prospect of playing in small stream at the bottom of the hill. In a backpack I carried some yarn for crocheting, a few worn books for my son, and a bar of Ivory soap which I used to wash ourselves in the stream. I felt large and ungainly in those last weeks, burdened by the heat and the pants I wore which fell uncomfortably below my stomach. There was a dog named Belle, a small Redbone hound that snuffled in the brush and leaves while her long ears fell along her nose.
Two days before the birth I felt lethargic and quit walking the long arduous trip down the hill, and stayed close to the rough structure we called home. The round fir poles and hands split cedar shakes, which protected us from wind and rain, was open to a vista of trees and the morning sun. That was my summer home, high on a hill where my child would be born under a ceiling of sky.
I obsessively poured bleach on the wooden plank that was my kitchen counter, a futile attempt at protecting me from the unknown of a birth in primitive surroundings. I had the pathetically simple preparation of clean sheets in the rugged atmosphere we lived. During the hot afternoon, I read the story my son loved, about a dog named Spike that was sprayed by a skunk and later washed in tomato juice to clean him. We often enjoyed a blackberry milkshake, goat milk, blackberries and sugar. That small luxury tasted as sweet as ice cream to us.
I had few close friends at the time and although they were supportive of me they were concerned about my choices. “You could die up there,” one friend commented. While I knew this was true and in fact quietly thought of the dangers, my days flowed one into another so easily, I simply lived day to day in an ancient rhythm. Two days before the actual birth a friend Carol arrived with her daughter. I felt a need to have another woman near me; maybe I felt her presence would help me, even though she knew less than I about childbirth in such primitive circumstances. “God you are huge, are you scared?” I do not recall my exact reply; however I am certain I answered with bravado. I was young and relied on youth and naiveté at the time. “Where exactly are you going to deliver?” she asked, as she looked dubiously at my surroundings. “Ah…well, right here,” I replied, pointing to a bed made of wooden planks which had been built some four feet off the ground. Our conversation about the birth ended there. She would not wound me with comments that could cause either of us more worry.
The night I was awakened with the contractions foretelling childbirth and I woke Carol and Ron the baby’s father. “I think I am in labor, probably be awhile.” However the labor intensified quickly and it was soon hard to discern the end of one contraction and the beginning of another. Nine months of walking up and down the forested hills seemed to have prepared my body for a quick, hard labor. Ron did what people have done for centuries, building a fire against the morning’s chill and setting a large pan of water to boil on an open fire. I recall looking at the night sky with the dog Belle lying near the fire, the night stars fading into a morning sky. There was not a clock available to know the exact time of birth but judging from the time of year and the light, my little girl was born about five in the morning. We had spoken little but laughed at my statement in the middle of labor, “I can't do this”
In the following days as summer slowly slid into autumn I walked that hill again and again, with two children. My tiny daughter in a pack, held close to my heart. She seemed terribly vulnerable in that large rough world. Much of the day was spent in cleaning clothes, diapers and in the constant ritual of feeding my son and daughter. We spent one more winter in that ripple of time; it is a blur in my memory. The strenuous work of caring for two children and keeping us warm and dry required my constant vigilance.
As my son grew older I recognized his need for interaction beyond that small world. We moved the next summer to a tiny community near the coast. One of the last one room schools in the state, and I would be closer to a store. How very civilized that seemed at the time.
In the years to follow as my children grew, we moved again to a rural town with even more accessibility to jobs, stores and a whole new world of possibilities. I spoke very little about that time. Most people looked at me with either confusion or consternation if I did mention it. However one friend many years later, having spent time in the Peace Corps, in the mountains of Thailand accepted that time as reasonable. She seemed to understand the simplicity of the experience and acknowledged the universality of it.
Today as a grandmother I can accept that time as an amazing time of quiet grace it was physically demanding. The relentless focus of simple duties, cooking, cleaning formed a structure which held us in place. I found a strength there that has stayed with me for many years, and I believe I could survive under any circumstance.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Sure, it teases me and melts an inch or two.
But then it just starts again.
It's snowing now.. my thermometer says it's 38 degrees.
It shouldn't be snowing. But it is.
If this doesn't stop I will have to put chains on my car to get out of the driveway.
The car hasn't left the garage since Saturday.
I could drive the stinky old pickup truck.
But I don't want to, it's a stinky old truck.. 1986 old.
I don't mean to complain ... I should be happy that I don't have to drive to work.
But I have cabin fever.
Yesterday I had to try to work with a five year old at home.
Granted he was very good, but how many times can one mama hear
"I'm hungry, I'm thirsty, I don't wanna watch this show."
" Mooooommmmm ... Rocket is looking at me" (rocket is the dog)
Oh good god help me!
Sunday, January 27, 2008
It snowed until the top of our picnic table had this many inches...
Finally.. after two power outages and hours and hours of snowing... the snow stopped. The little birdies came out to eat the seeds off of the birch tree out front.
The sky turned blue... just in time for my husband to come home from work and take us for a ride in the jeep.
We went up and over the hill. We stopped to get a branch off the road ... and got stuck in the ditch.
Luckily, we live around a bunch of farmers, with winches and we were saved.
By the way, this is totally unusual for us to have this much snow, several times in one winter.
Friday, January 25, 2008
I just love it and hope that it stays in our family for years to come.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Me: "What's that in your pocket?"
Bug: Confused look on his face as he reaches down to pull it out. "Oh it's from school, I found it in the loft"
Me: "Ok, we can take it back tomorrow"
Bug: " It's ok, I don't think it's any ones toy, well it might be, but I don't think they want it"
Me: " Is it your toy?"
Me: " What if you took a toy to school and left it there. Then another kid took it home on accident. What would you want them to do with your toy?"
Bug: " Bring it back to school"
Me: " So what should we do with this toy?"
Bug: " Take it back to school"
This morning he reminded me that we needed to take the toy back. I was feeling pretty good about it all, my little lesson, how he totally got what I was teaching him. He carried it into the daycare this morning. Then he handed it to me, nervous. "Mom you can give it to the teacher" It was clear he was embarrassed about it.
I did hand it to the teacher myself, telling her it had made it's way home last night in error.
Now I'm wondering if that is how I should have handled that. Should I have made my embarrassed child step up and hand it over himself?
Would that have made it a better lesson?
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Then my subsequent vow that I would be selling off two of the beasts?
Well they left in the back of a pickup this afternoon.
You can't see my dancing.. but I am doing it.
Saturday will be my day to shop. Wish me luck... trying on pair after pair of blue jeans is not my favorite thing.... but it must be done. I'm down to two pairs and I really don't like washing laundry that often.
Monday, January 21, 2008
I love this next picture.. who doesn't love catching snow flakes on their tongue!
Here is Bug taking a ride on his Snow Boogie board that Santa brought him...
Here are the boys scoping out a new hill. Hmm.. maybe if we just jump in this ditch filled with water...
Here is T trying to decide if he should take the plunge....
I don't need no stinkin' boogie board.. Geronimo!!!!!
Here are the guys.. winching out one of the trucks.. my husband is in the grey jacket.. drooling over his friends winch.
Here is the stuck truck.. Hubby is the one knee deep beside the truck , I'm in the purple jacket in front of the truck.. pretending to take a good picture... dork!
Looking at these makes me not want to sell our Jeep.. but that discussion I'll leave for another post.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Now twelve years later the fascination with Dinosaurs has been passed down to his little brother. Bug isn't as intensely preoccupied with Dino's as his big brother was. He has said once or twice that he would like to be a paleontologist, but that was between the times he wanted to be a surfer, rock star or an astronaut.
In any case, he still loves the dinosaurs and has sat through three hours worth of the BBC specials on The Discovery Channel, barley taking his eyes off of the screen. He would repeat every fact that he found exciting.
So when we had the chance to take him to the live experience, we jumped at it. We went with some good friends who also have a Dino fascinated youngster. He is a year and a half younger than Bug but they get along great.
I wasn't sure if camera's would be allowed so I tucked mine under my jacket just in case. When we got to our seats, it was fairly dark. As we waited for the show to begin, they had some jungle sounds playing and every once in a while there would be a roar from a dinosaur.
Bug's little friend turned to his mom and said he wanted to go home. Poor little guy was pretty scared. Bug tried to reassure him that "They are just robots, they aren't real"
Luckily when the show did start he lost his fear and enjoyed the show. Just before it started they announced that no flash photography was allowed. I turned off the flash and tried my best to get some good shots. They turned out pretty good, I tried to lighten some with photoshop, but I'm not that great at photoshop.
The "plants" were air filled and would appear and disappeared depending on the era they were discussing.
When the Stegosaurus came out Bug displayed his Dino knowledge by letting us know "It had the brain the size of a walnut." When the announcer later said the same thing Bug advised him " I already know that." Which solicited laughter from the people around us.
The Dinosaurs were amazing, their movements were so life like.
At times I wouldn't even notice the car like thing underneath them that held a person controlling their movements around the arena.
We had good seats, the only time I had wished we were in a different spot is when this next picture was taken. It was "flying", but behind it was a screen with a background that made it look like it was really moving. We couldn't get that effect being to the side of it.
At one point Bug said "Get out of there you crazy man!" When the Tyrannosaurus was getting angry.
At the end the T-Rex made it's way around the arena, roaring at each section.
It was a really good time, it was so fun to watch the boys faces as each new Dinosaur came out. But talked through the whole thing, and hasn't stopped talking about it sense!