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As Summer Draws to an End

As Summer Draws to an End

Joy is measured through that we touch daily.

golden light stripes the wall in morning

as apparition appearing

(though no false god this!)

to silently nudge slumber with a most gentle alarm of holiday dream.

was it a dream? — no matter.

to heat, to water!

to the green depths of lake that curtain summer stage.

a dive, then first breath, the slow blurring of edges,

the lack of form between things.

soon a plot unfolds.

cloud and shadow scheme,

draw plans on distant hills

while breeze, waiting in the wing,

rehearse with wave their entrance and exit,

the tricky part,

all the while whistling vaguely

in the manner of summer.

ah yes, summer.

the season meant to remind,

in the final act and measure,

that a clarity lies just out of sight

(on the lakebed perhaps)

awaiting the memory of future days.

– Ken Blackburn

Every time I ask a mom of older kids if they’re ready for school to start they emphatically answer, “Yes!!” Maybe it’s because this is the big year when Cooper’s life becomes ruled by the school system and it feels like some carefree chapter of his boyhood is being closed, but I’m not so sure I’m ready for school to start. This summer slipped through my fingers like sand and the harder I tried to hold onto it the faster it went. Even though it’s over sooner than I’d like, it was one of those wonderful memory building summers. Here are some pictures from the smaller moments of summer that didn’t get their own blog post.

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature’s first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf’s a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

– Robert Frost

Duck!Wall of LeavesFalling LeavesLeaf DuoEllen and Leaves

Mom Powered

Mom Powered

I like to ride my bicycle.In spite of having a father that has a slight obsession with bicycles, I’ve always been a little timid about riding my own. I squeeze my brakes for dear life when going downhill and am skittish in  traffic. As long as I have a patient companion I’ll venture out and generally have a good time, but rarely go by myself. Noel has gotten really good at riding his bike to do all kinds of errands and quite frankly I was jealous at how happy it makes him when driving around doing those same errands only tarnishes my hippie cred and rarely gives me any sort of deep fulfillment. When Cooper started preschool I found myself driving six miles, twice a day, four days a week. As a person who tries to consolidate my errands and use the car sparingly, this was a big change. Our gasoline usage was creeping up and all the driving was making me a tad bit ornery. (It doesn’t help that feelings of bitterness well up as I pass the preschool two blocks from our house that wasn’t able to fit him in this year.) So, I decided I needed to put on my big girl pants and give bike transit a better effort. Today I loaded Ellen into the trailer and we went to pick up Cooper. There isn’t as much traffic in the afternoon and the cars we did see knew they shouldn’t mess with this mom and her trailer and gave us a wide berth. I got a little sweaty and my legs got a good burn from powering us up some hills, but it felt awesome. I’m sure the fresh air didn’t hurt either. I’m going to have to use my mom powered vehicle more often.

And here’s a poem from Sarah Kay’s Ted Talk that has been powering this momma lately.

Oh, I love poetry! And riding my bike. Let’s all go sing Kumbaya, shall we!?! 😉

 

Sippy Cups

Sippy Cups

Warrior Princess Ellen climbing the step stool and turning on the sink.
Warrior Princess Ellen climbing the step stool and turning on the bathroom sink.

At the end of every day I play one final round

of hide and seek with all of the sippy cups.

Fetching them from beneath sofas, out of sand pails,

and off the back porch.

I tuck them all into the dishwasher

to be washed while their owners sleep.

At the children’s first stirrings in the morning,

the sippy cups are retrieved

one by one from their safe haven

to dutifully perform their bout of service before they disappear.

Really, it shouldn’t be a surprise that they hide

after being hurled from a high chair or surviving a tug-of-war.

By the end of the day, all the sippy cups cower,

hoping they won’t be discovered

until the little ones have gone away to dreamland.

Only then, will they allow themselves to be found

and tucked back into the dishwasher.

Praying that tomorrow they just might get the day off.

Cooper begging to swing for the millionth time that day.
Cooper begging to swing for the millionth time that day.
What happens when everyone wants to swing at the park.
What happens when everyone wants to swing at the park.
What happens when you have hungry climbers living in your house.
Some hungry kids sharing their pilfered snack.
Snow Day

Snow Day

Noel celebrating his snow day. The timing couldn't have been more perfect. Clear skies the day we picked people up from the airport and a huge dump of snow that gave Noel the one day off his PTO didn't quite cover while family was here.
Today we woke up to a revolution of snow,
its white flag waving over everything,
the landscape vanished,
not a single mouse to punctuate the blankness,
and beyond these windows
the government buildings smothered,
schools and libraries buried, the post office lost
under the noiseless drift,
the paths of trains softly blocked,
the world fallen under this falling.
In a while, I will put on some boots
and step out like someone walking in water,
and the dog will porpoise through the drifts,
and I will shake a laden branch
sending a cold shower down on us both.
But for now I am a willing prisoner in this house,
a sympathizer with the anarchic cause of snow.
I will make a pot of tea
and listen to the plastic radio on the counter,
as glad as anyone to hear the news
that the Kiddie Corner School is closed,
the Ding-Dong School, closed.
the All Aboard Children’s School, closed,
the Hi-Ho Nursery School, closed,
along with—some will be delighted to hear—
the Toadstool School, the Little School,
Little Sparrows Nursery School,
Little Stars Pre-School, Peas-and-Carrots Day School
the Tom Thumb Child Center, all closed,
and—clap your hands—the Peanuts Play School.
So this is where the children hide all day,
These are the nests where they letter and draw,
where they put on their bright miniature jackets,
all darting and climbing and sliding,
all but the few girls whispering by the fence.
And now I am listening hard
in the grandiose silence of the snow,
trying to hear what those three girls are plotting,
what riot is afoot,
which small queen is about to be brought down.
– Billy Collins
It Figures

It Figures

The day I wear purple flannel pajamas past noon

multiple people knock on my door needing to speak with me.

Ignore the stretch of the juvenile sock monkey print over my round, six months and counting belly

and how I’d greeted Medusa in the mirror that morning with mascara smudged eyes.

It would be nice if anyone stopped by on the many days that I comb my hair and change my clothes,

but if that’s what it takes to get people to come visit

I may have to try this again tomorrow.

First Snow

First Snow

The snow

began here

this morning and all day

continued, its white

rhetoric everywhere

calling us back to why, how,

whence such beauty and what

the meaning; such

an oracular fever! flowing

past windows, an energy it seemed

would never ebb, never settle

less than lovely! and only now,

deep into night,

it has finally ended.

The silence

is immense,

and the heavens still hold

a million candles, nowhere

the familiar things:

stars, the moon,

the darkness we expect

and nightly turn from. Trees

glitter like castles

of ribbons, the broad fields

smolder with light, a passing

creekbed lies

heaped with shining hills;

and though the questions

that have assailed us all day

remain — not a single

answer has been found –

walking out now

into the silence and the light

under the trees,

and through the fields,

feels like one.

~Mary Oliver~

excerpted from American Primitive

Spring?

Spring?

The Poetry of Bad Weather

Someone had propped a skateboard

by the door of the classroom,

to make quick his escape, come the bell.

For it was February in Florida,

the air of instruction thick with tanning butter.

Why, my students wondered,

did the great dead poets all live north of us?

Was there nothing to do all winter there

but pine for better weather?

Had we a window, the class could keep an eye

on the clock and yet watch the wild plum

nod with the absent grace of the young.

We could study the showy scatter of petals.

We could, for want of a better word, call it “snowy.”

The room filled with stillness, flake by flake.

Only the dull roar of air forced to spend its life indoors

could be heard. Not even the songbird

of a cell phone chirped.  Go home,

I wanted to tell the horse on the page.

You know the way, even in snow

gone blue with cold.

– Debora Greger

I love the lines in the poem where the students wonder if all the dead poets have “nothing to do all winter . . . but pine for better weather?”  We’ve had some really nice weather lately. The past couple of days have been stroller pushing, park playing, chaco wearing, jacket forgetting kinds of days. I officially blame the weather for the plethora of half completed drafts I have yet to finish and post. The forecast indicates that winter will be making a comeback, and perhaps the writer in me will come with it. In the meantime, I think I’m due for today’s dose of Vitamin D therapy.

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day

Made with a little help from Martha Stewart

Pocket Poem

If this comes creased and creased again and soiled

as if I’d opened it a thousand times

to see if what I’d written here was right,

it’s all because I looked too long for you

to put in your pocket. Midnight says

the little gifts of loneliness come wrapped

by nervous fingers. What I wanted this

to say was that I want to be so close

that when you find it, it is warm from me.

– Ted Kooser*

If you look close you can see his budding tooth
Noel's Valentine's Day welcome party
*Ted Kooser, former poet laureate, has a tradition of writing a poem every Valentine’s Day. A couple of them were featured here on NPR two years ago.
Cardio-Bot Convert

Cardio-Bot Convert

Running is one of the biggest tags on this blog, so I know I don’t need to tell you I love it. For me, running has always just been part of life – something as necessary and natural as breathing. There are so many people I’ve met because of running, so many stories both life changing and minute that I could tell. (Any ideas on how I can convince Runner’s World that they need me?) Even my meeting and dating Noel involves running. Today I’m going to try and stick to one subject though: running and technology.

I’m a purist when it comes to running. My ideal run is on a dirt trail that climbs and falls through foliage and all I’m dragging with me is a compression tank, a pair of tempo shorts, ankle socks, and my beloved Brooks – no watch, no ipod, no GPS, no fuel belt.  I feel like all the extra training gizmos mess with what’s so natural about running. I leave my ipod at home, not because I’m convinced that they can be dangerously distracting or because I’m sure they are the leading cause of terrible form, but because I run to be with myself. Likewise, I’ve never been a big fan of treadmills. I mean, what was the point of running if you aren’t going anywhere? Running on a treadmill often feels more like torture than the soul searching relief I know it to be. However, over the years of living in cold climates and spending the best part of winter days in class or at work, treadmills have managed to weasel a little bit of love into our hateful  relationship.

I’ve been coveting treadmills for awhile now. I’m not about to go running on icy days with the jogger and even days when the roads are dry getting out the door can be kind of difficult. I mean, try coordinating a baby’s nap with the weather – what could be more unpredictable? After watching craigslist like a hawk for two weeks (purchasing exercise equipment in January is kind of competitive) I’ve got a treadmill of my very own. Although I feel more like a cardio-bot than ever as I listen to an ipod nano in one ear and the ipod touch (our makeshift baby monitor thanks to skype) with the other, I can’t tell you how good it feels. Sure I get distracted by all the flashing numbers and hate that the scenery never changes, but I think this might keep me sane until spring.

And a poem I wrote, just to make this post that much longer.

Fieldhouse

Quickly press the up arrow, anticipating the adrenaline high
Set the speed, and secretly compare to the monitor on the next machine
Separated by inches, no one speaks
A row of people running nowhere, seeing nothing
staring into space, listening only to the private serenade of ear buds
Sweating together, breathing together, working together, yet
not together.
Only the cadences of feet and exhalations converse to
establish a silent camaraderie