Creativity, Happy Days, Parenting

Happy 100 Days: 21

My son is standing at the kitchen counter with a handful of permanent markers and  a stack of recycled paper. The brush in my hands works its way through his golden hair. The tangle in the back tightens like the fist of Christmas lights we threw into the corner after 30 minutes of trying. The smell of spruce clings to the morning.
 
Bug continues on a picture of a golf ball factory he began last night. His running commentary distracts us both from the small knots yanking at his scalp. “This bin is for one color, and this one for blue. They get sorted into the right boxes, and here is where they go if the wrong color is in the box. Ow!
 
“I’m sorry, baby. I’ll go slow.”
 
He fills the page with tiny circles, long funnels, and snaking tubes. He writes the words “picker” and “golf ball tools.”
 
When we were decorating, I managed to pick apart one fist of lights and unfurl a string to adorn the tree. When I finished, I hooted and cheered. “Perseverance pays off!” I hoped this would make us all forget about me tossing the other strand aside and declaring it hopeless.
 
Bug leans close to make a thin line on the edge of the page. My hands follow his arc. I separate the twisted locks at the base of his skull one snarl at a time.  The brush barely moves yet its work is relentless.
 
“I am going to be an engineer,” he tells me. “Not the train kind. The building kind.”
 
“Yes, you will, baby. You can build anything you see inside your mind.”
 
“I know, Mom,” he says.
 
Good. I lean in and kiss him on the damp head. He barely registers me. He is too focused on crafting his vision one perfect circle at a time. Let’s keep it that way.
 

Love, Outdoors, Poetry

Happy 100 Days: 46

I have only two left
gloves, a worn
hole in the index finger
of one so I turn it backwards
on my right hand and heft
my end of the 6×6
over to the pit where the small hill
of sand by the gate
will reside
after we are done
(probably not today)
 
The man’s toolbelt drags
down his pants and his pencils
have not been sharpened
in a year. His drill
bit is too short and keeps escaping
from its housing
it is a wonder we manage
to fit holes
three beams deep
with the same rebar we use
to lever the lumber from its
ill-placed seating
(the volunteers did not use a level)
 
Leaves drift into the pit and we lose
the maul and then the last
pencil. My gloves flop like wings of
bats. Nothing stays. We use the flat
side of a hand saw to draw a line
“measure twice, cut once,” I say
so he pauses and smiles and unclips
the measuring tape
before hitching up his pants
again. When he drills backwards
through wood to meet
the hole from the other side, every time
I hold my breath and every time
I cheer when the bit spins free
finding its aim in the dark center
and the light and the air
spill through
behind the shavings
 
The eight-foot beam splits
my right index finger
at the tip and I suck my breath
but he is bleeding too in almost the same place
(the posts are hard to lift from the rebar
we keep seating too soon)
so we both shrug and keep hammering
the business end of one maul
with the blunt end of another
 
The sun sinks. We coil
the orange cord and stand
the shovels and wheelbarrow against the shed
wall, the beams still loose
the sand still piled
by the gate. He gives me
my first and
as it turns out
only hug of the day
and drives off with the circular saw
in his back seat
 
The gloves need a proper burial
but I toss them in
with my tools again
and my skin chafes red and thirsty
as I lift away the leaves caught
in the trunk of my car to make
room. The sting dulls to a throb
and so I do not feel the cut
mouth of the paper frog
my son made for a man
he loved once when crafting
something by hand was enough
even if the the edges
were ragged and maybe
even especially then.
 

Uncategorized

Happy 100 Days: 94

 
At the Colonial Farm Park, we walk back into 1771. It is all bonnets and woolen trousers. The family living there hangs tobacco in the barn to dry. The cast-iron belly of a pot hangs low over a fire that heats a potage of turnips, onions, and potatoes to boiling. The children are at work pulling “mile o’minute” from the fence with large wooden rakes. The skinny black cat is stuck in the tree, but one of the women uses a thick branch to help him down. As soon as he is back on the ground, he races off to terrorize the chickens.
 
Bug and his friend scoot around the corner to get in on the action when the clutch of young people returns from rounding up a loose piglet. A boy tosses darts made of corn cobs through a hoop. The girls spread their skirts and rest in the shade before supper. They show the two children from the future their dolls made of twisted corn husks wrapped in scraps of hand-dyed wool.
 
The place is inches away from one of the most congested metropolitan areas in the country. Or rather, what will become such a place in another 250 years. My friend’s little boy points out a cumulus cloud. A leaf falls into the collar of his shirt and he giggles. I hear the geese jabber at someone passing over the hill.
 
Time passes. Maybe a long time, maybe not. My friend and I talk, sitting on stumps outside the warming face of the log house where garlic dries in the rafters. Bug and his buddy are somewhere out of sight. A chicken squawks its disapproval at the relentless kitten. Eventually, Bug comes around to see me.
 
“Mommy, do you know what we are doing?”
 
“I have no idea.”
 
“We’re building a dollhouse.”
 
We rise and shake of the torpor. Indeed, he and my friend’s daughter have collected fallen sticks and sleeves of bark, gathered stones, overturned logs. They continue to balance these mismatched building block across one another, higher and wider. All around them, the skirts spread, the bonnets loll. No one speaks. Somehow, the house is erected.
 
My friend and I sit some more. Later, we wake, and 20 years has passed. The sun has moved our rough seats into the shade. We shiver a little and pull sweaters back over our sunburned shoulders. When we leave, we find the children have assembled the corn-husk family in its new quarters. The rooster struts past, swishing his black-ringed tail. The kitten watches from a distance. Everyone is ready for winter.