The Root of Love Grows in Time

The red cedar fell into the limbs of the black birch. 
Ringing Rocks State Park, February 19, 2012

Yesterday my son took a long, deep nap. I had been in the garden the entire morning. Except for a brief trip into the house for a diaper change and to fix a snack of yogurt, last year's canned peaches, and homemade honey cake, my husband and son were in the garden also. Weeding, digging, spreading compost, tossing rocks, laying cardboard to mulch over the grass.

I pulled the last of the kale that survived the mild winter. My son was fond of it. He helped me harvest the greens daily until December. Even when nothing but a few drooping leaves clung to a wiry stem, my son harvested the leaves. "Mmm, mmm," he would say, handing me a bit of kale. If I simply replied, "Yes, kale," he would repeat, "Mmmm, MMM," until I took the leaf hanging from loose thread on his too big mitten. When he observes ornamental kale in landscaping, he plucks its leaves and turns to me with an outstretched hand, "Mmmm. MMM."

Lately, he has been observed squatting before the garden kale plants and taking a large bite. Perhaps this is why his iron count was good at his 12 month appointment. What I observed first, however, was my son with a large glob of green in his mouth.

"What's in your mouth? What's in your mouth? Open. OPEN," I said. Since having a child, I've developed a habit of repeating everything I say twice.

My husband stopped digging and watched us. My son with a runny nose and teeth clamped together, and me alternating between hesitantly swatting his back and probing his mouth with my index finger. When the sloppy green glob fell out of his mouth, my husband said, "Kale. I saw him leaning over the kale."

With the kale now weeded, he busies himself by walking over rocks and the garden beds, pulling off the blueberries' flowering buds (I hope I don't see that again), stomping on the cardboard, trying to haul the garden cart, and excitedly assisting his parents in the moving and placement of very heavy garden structures.

At lunchtime, our cheeks were ruddy from sun and breeze. We shared venison tacos, until my son tired of sitting in the high chair. He turned to my husband with arms outstretched, "Pick me up. I want to be on your lap, and Momma lets me sit on her lap at the table at least 50% less than Papa does." It's always been true, even when Beren was an infant.

His eyes were sleepy, and I put him down for a nap. He slept long while his parents each went to their tasks of sowing seeds, digging, and earth shaping.

Deep into the afternoon, it was time for my son to wake, but he slept on. Parents toiled on. Finally, the sounds of my moving about the house woke him. He looked at me with concerned, dark blue eyes and waved his hands, "I'm awake but not sure I'd like to be. Pick me up."

They grew together.

His body was heavy and laid against my chest. I leaned on the crib. His head rest on my shoulder. I wondered if he fell asleep again. As an infant, he hardly cuddled. He always needed to see, and when he did stop to rest his head on my shoulder or his father's, we, even the parent not holding Beren, would pause and hold still, not wanting the break the spell.

So, my son rested his head. He moved and rested his chin on my shoulder. Possibly a cuddle with the benefits of being able to see... his chin dug into my shoulder and I felt the root of love grow from my shoulder down into my self. We stayed still.

My husband came in the front door. Beren smiled with an open mouth, tossed his head back, and then laid his head down again. We all stilled, until my husband and son again began trading smiles and laughter. My son bent at his waist, making his body perpendicular to the ground, "Put me down," he throws all his weight into his downward plunge. He staggers, his legs not yet awake, falls to the ground, rises, and flings open the toybox lid.