We awake to the red naped sapsucker hammering on the telephone pole. We fall asleep to the neighborhood kids shrieking happily (and Col blundering out of his room half asleep but still able to identify voices, “Jebby and David are outside, keeping me up…” It’s so fun, the communal neighborhood of summer living! In fact, one pair of siblings are such frequent visitors that when a day passes without their knock at our door, I worry about them).
The truth of our house.
Between sapsuckers and post-sunset revelry, the days last forever, unspooling like a Choose Your Own Adventure book. We start in agenda-less freefall, all options open. The kids paw through the lego pile together, speaking their own insider sibling language. I chop rhubarb while singing a little song to myself about how lovely everything is. Next, the heat of sticky boredom rises, entangling them. They bicker heartily over the same tattered arguments, just to see if a new angle pops up.
I generally stay out of the fray, though my ear is always tuned to catch a slight and dangerous rise in Rose’s voice. I casually mention from my rhubarb station: “I heard Rose say, stop, did you, Col?” Because we all know Rose has about three warnings in her before she strikes.
Col makes a lego laptop and Rose insists her doll needs to use it. I issue Parental Broadcast # 34 about requests being easier to hear than demands. She reframes. He acquiesces. I exhale. Rose cheerfully asks Col, How do you spell, Frozen? I hope we can get it on Netflix!
Food prep, dishes, food prep, dishes. Col approaches me with the book, Chino: Warbird Treasures Past and Present, eyes gleaming and ready to explain some WWII airplane terminology I’m not going to understand. Stay present, I tell myself. Ailerons, fuselage, hypersonic. Blink yourself awake, I hiss, as my attention sneaks away.
A flock of vultures soar over the house, so low we can see their feather-less red heads. We gather at the window, wondering and watching them merge into sky. I gaze down at the garden, which rises to the snake charmer’s song of heat and rain. I’m in perpetual amazement that we planted all those trees. We read a chapter of our latest book and the kids melt into me, our heartbeats synchronized, our nervous systems unclenching.
Rose has turned the livingroom into an Egyptian burial for her doll, tiny plastic shoes and headbands lined up tidily. Dresses and nightgowns displayed across the floor, taking up an unreasonable amount of our 800 sf. I grumble inwardly about the selling of consumer culture to little girls, while Rose brushes acres of faux doll hair onto the floor.
Food prep, dishes, food prep, dishes.
We file outside. It’s 95F with afternoon clouds marching down from the mountains. There’s 3 pairs of boy/girl sibling neighbors playing Hide and Seek in our funkified yard. I say a little prayer about safety from spiders, rusty nails and errant antlers. Feeling like I accomplished something monumental along the lines of tending to basic needs, emotion-coaching, supporting growth and freedom, conflict-resolution, I head upstairs for a beer.
I text Dan at work about the problem of drinking the last beer without replacing it. He texts back something about women’s soccer. Col finds a house sparrow fledgling, not the first which has flopped early and helplessly from its nest.
The siblings all go home, and I feel—despite the missed beer opportunity—that summer is perfectly itself, equally full of awe, adventure, freedom and the luckiness of a little boredom. I open the fridge, thinking about dinner, and wondering how to match up everyone’s different tastes with our paltry supplies. Col calls out, “Look! Look!” Everyone gathers at the window, searching. Col continues to point and shout. Rose says, “Col, it’s just a hummingbird.”
But, it’s more than just a hummingbird. It’s the avian equivalent of summer, so fleeting and rare and precious that sometimes all you can do is point and shout, and then take it in with an exhale of gratitude.
:: Green gentian lives between 30-80 years before flowering once in a blaze of creamy-petaled glory, then dying. There are always some green gentians flowering, but in periodic banner years, thousands of them bloom in one area. This year seems pretty good already.
:: These days are long enough to get up high, have a little cook-out in the woods and play the extremely exciting and risky game of: throw the paper airplane through the fire.
:: Everlasting salad # 76, the lambsquarters version.
:: Col to Dan: So, I’m thinking about putting one of the engine cartridges from my rocket on this balsa airplane…do you think it’ll work?
Dan: Are you trying to make the thing fly, or just have a haywire experiment?
Col: Haywire experiment.
See that cartridge thingy between the wings? Col attached it to fuses and got to launch it in a park near our house. The whole thing was slightly alarming and confusing to me (and ultimately successful!) Thank you, Dan, for discerning when Col’s going to blow up the neighborhood or just do a little fun propulsion.
They built this stand for the launch. That’s what a cool dad Dan is.
All the love,