We sat alone by the river when the comet streaked above our heads, a sharp, clear line that burned into the black. It was a split-second sky-mark, but I can still see it when I pull out the memory. In those days, we spent minutes and hours in silence. Words are important, but, right then, it was all too much for words to muddy, and we knew what needed knowing, anyway.
In the middle of the night, we sat on hard stones and watched each other through the bonfire. He wore the flames like a wreath around his head. He was sure and certain of his heart; I was timid and bold by turns. Love is often too large to hold quietly, but I did.
We had no long talks late into the night about our future, about the number of children we should have, or about the best colors for a wedding. We didn't discuss how we'd handle finances nor with what fabric we'd reupholster our couches when the stuffing spilled through. Mostly, there were pools of silence, dark and cool. Shadows and spaces in which to think and feel.
We talked and laughed and muddled a lot, too, forging our way from here to there. We wrote words, needful ones and nonsense both, filling pages enough to stretch across the ocean, which they did. We walked and talked for miles that winter, spring, and summer, and we drove for miles more with music and wind snatching words away.
I suppose the silence stands out because now those pools ring loud and boisterous. They hold rowdy splashes and rope swings and shouts across the riverbed. The surface roils with young limbs learning to swim. All this noise and mostly happy chaos sprang forth from pools of silence.
All this love was born of one good friendship.
Now, again, I hear high-pitched hiccoughs and feel a tiny leg quivering in sleep. With bony knees drawn to his belly, he's a small, whorled seashell curved into itself. Little goat grunts and high, squeaky sighs come first, and then his eyes roll back into his head as sleep comes.
Living is knotted and tangled. It is hard and gritty and ugly in patches. The earth groans, as it must. But simplicity waits in the elemental. Nursing in the middle of the night, half-asleep, a small body lies curled between my friend and I. The fan spins, the crickets sing, and I find in all the nighttime noises of a family sleeping that here, too, is silence, vast and deep.
And in this silence is great love to share.
It's both impossible and foolish to focus on a list of chores when a new baby fills all the crannies of a home. I was trying to put away laundry when I innocently glanced at the bed. Then I went to get my camera, and five minutes passed before I came to myself. Then I just stared at him for a while. The laundry didn't find its way into drawers until that evening.
For the ultrasound, Aidan's hands covered his face, and he still seeks skin and warmth on his face in order to fall soundly asleep.
I love watching new babies draw themselves tight and close, instinctively forming themselves into the familiar. A womb-shape of comfort out in the openness of a wider world.
Because while cutting Ezekiel's hair the other day, I realized something.
One day, he's going to be a barber (who drives Big Noisy Things)
while styling hair,
because that's The Way to Do Things Right.
Looking good, buddy. Keep on truckin'.
Fruity birthed five darling kittens AGAIN this spring. The girls kept asking me to take pictures of them, but I never got around to it. (As Grandma Manwaring told my mom, "Was-Going-To never did nothin,'" and she was right. I never do nothin'.)
So, of course, it follows that last week the girls discovered one of the kittens cold and stiff, mysteriously departed from this life. It was Piper's kitten, and she was disconsolate for the day. I didn't realize how upset she was until my parents dropped in and asked if Piper was sad. "Why?" I asked. When they pulled in the driveway, she was sitting by the lower garden, still wearing her nightgown and with her head in her hands, and she stayed there for the whole visit. Why the lower garden?
Well, because that's where I dug the grave which the girls had festooned with flowers that morning.
Annie and Pip wanted me to take a picture of the bouquet they made for the gravesite.
I'd even taken a quick snapshot of the ceremony, during which the girls had placed the surviving kitten-siblings on the grave "to say goodbye."
The children have made sure that I stop and smell the flowers. Zeke loves the white roses, especially, though their heady scent is lost on him as he still blows air out of his nose trying to sniff them. Poor dear. Someday he'll learn how to both talk and blow his nose (I hope). OH, and wear clothes. Someday, he'll wear clothes, too.
He braves the thorns for the sake of the bloom,
and, then, like a charmer, he offers them to me, waiting for my melodramatic exclamations of delight.
Besides, they match the peonies perfectly. I planted some mystery peony bulbs this year and am hoping, first, that I didn't kill them, and, second, that they're not hot pink. We get enough pink each June just with these beauties.
Why does this baby look so frightened?
Because his big brother loooooves him, that's why, and there is no love as violent as that of a 2-year old.
So many people wonder before a baby comes if we're worried about the "old" baby being jealous of the new. In my experience, though, the only thing to fret over is how to tone the inevitable love down to safe physical levels.
Jealousy? Absolutely not.
With someone this cute, there's no space for envy,