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.


It's time for the black birch trees to drop their seeds.

Timing is everything.

Having your timing belt go on the 1990 Ford Escort in rush hour at the intersection of George Street and Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick, that's bad timing.

Bringing the Ford Ranger pickup in the the shop for another several hundred dollar repair (the one previous having just been a few weeks prior), that's bad timing.

Trying to remember if you replaced the timing belt on the 1995 Ford Ranger pickup sometime in the past 60,000 miles, that's bad record keeping.

Painting the House

'Trailblazer Red' on black birch, which is beginning to turn yellow-rumped warbler this week.

I prefer 'Pinesap Red in Afternoon Light.'

Tomorrow we'll look for paint for the living room, a small room with a low, angled ceiling, a woodstove in the corner, a doorway on three of the four walls, a purplish-burgundy couch that harbors a keyboard, Scrabble and Chinese checkers below, a white rocking chair, a sea foam green wooden chair, a homemade Shaker candleholder, a banged up nightstand with small pink roses painted on the handles, a selection of trim, many nail holes, and grey office carpet. Did I mention the walls are dark wood paneling that has been painted off-white?

No paint, not Ralph Lauren Lifestyle Colors, not even the jewel-like tones of The Arnolfini Wedding Portrait under museum lights, can look like the colors in nature.

Sassafras and tupelo leaves amongst last autumn's chestnut oak and beech leaves.

Why? Because the things of nature are many colors. A fresh coat of paint hides all the nail holes (if you know how to spackle well), but it is baldly one color. If you hate it, there's nowhere to look that is not that color. I hate every color I have ever painted any room.

The first room I rented during college was a beautiful yellow (I didn't paint it, my roommate, a fine arts painter did). I have been trying to find that color since then, but I wonder if it was simply that I didn't choose the color and the room had beautiful wood trim and floors.

When we talk about painting rooms, Jared suggests "Wren stomach, let's paint this room the color of Carolina wren stomach." Golden-yellow. Possibly the color of my bedroom in college.

Or was the bedroom painted 'Hayscented fern in autumn'? I think I may buy the wrong color tomorrow.