"I'm kind of in the mood to read, I thought I might read this to you," I wave Malcolm Gladwell's new book toward Craig.
The weekend grocery trip in full unloading fervor, he hastens past, slews a box of onions and sweet potatoes onto the counter. Flakes of onion flutter to the ground. Fifty pound bag of chicken feed beetled over his free arm, he sidles around the bottle neck by the fridge.
"Hey, did you check for eggs?" Jack says. Jane pitches two rotisserie chickens next to the box of groceries.
"I got six," Lucy shouts.
"Craig?" I say.
"I'm kind of busy with something right now," he says. He lifts the feed bag over the kids' heads and eases around a cupboard bank that hems us into the small kitchen.
"I know," I say, "I was just planting a little bug in your ear."
"What's that?" Jane, zeroes in on the crisp hardback, lifts her chin to read the title. As if on cue, Jack and Lu halt the egg conversation, curiosity furrowed between their brows.
"David and Goliath," I read, "Underdogs, Misfits, And The Art Of Battling Giants." By this time they're a semicircle of jostling. One person slides the celery on to the counter. Another snaps the egg carton shut and elbows around someone else to slip it into the fridge.
Jane unmuddled by the entropy, takes the title in, digests it, nods approval.
"The Art Of Battling Giants," Jack quips from somewhere to my left, "I can't wait."
And then as if by quorum the group nods, moves on, shuffles more groceries from suburban to counter to cupboard or pantry. The consensus is reached. We shall read it together.
And so we do. Sixty miles an hour due south, straightaway to the farm, the seven of us read and listen, unroll idea after idea, history, science, probability. The children chime in on Marcus Manlius, the Peloponnesian War, Israel, the Philistines.
We unfurl a whole skein of ideas and elbow to elbow begin to knit them together. Fiber after fiber, we weave a whole world of shared knowledge; we form an identity, a camaraderie. Loyalty rises. Quietly, unannounced, something like devotion unfurls its wings, encircles us all.
4952. "I really like history," Jane says. "It's something that really happened that's like a mirror, but a little blurry, of things that will happen. I like to look at the blurry parts and try to see them."
4953. The kids suit up for the season's first snowfall, goggles and all.
4954. Myra goes on a date with Gramma.
4955. We read about the temptation of Jesus. "It makes me think," Jane says, "that God expects us to act good even when we're hungry -- as good or even better than usual."
4956. "Thank-you that we can be here, and thank-you for Bobble study," Myra prays. Craig and I smile. We will miss it when she starts to say Bible study.
4957. "You look pretty," Myra grins, my long hair down after a shower. "But you look like someone else."
4958. I get to know my cousin's wife over fb.
4959. Lucy goes on a date with Gramma.
4960. Miss Lynne brings Miss Caroline for ASL this week. She captivates us with stories of growing up as a CODA (child of a Deaf adult). At every turn she embraces life with affection and joy. As she leaves I'm certain I've underestimated the goodness of life.
4961. "Mom, look how big I am," Myra says. "Do you think I'm gonna get heavy like a mommy?" she pines.
4962. We watch again the art of hospitality. Down on the farm, table heavy with roast and fresh bread, squash and salad, peach pie, we trace the old time way of laughter and just being together.
4963. Craig's mom shows me how to pull a knit stitch 15 rows back, fix a flaw, and pull the dropped stitch back up.
4964. Jack picks a grocery bag full of apples up in the orchard.
4965. My dad comes for dinner. We track Mom's flight back from Kenya cuddled up on the black couch together. We eat chicken and sweet tater fries, play Yahtzee, have apple crisp. The evening drifts by in plumes of happiness. Perfection.
4966. "Mom," Myra says, "if my hands are cold in the morning, then what are you going to do?"
4967. "Joey's up to my neck," she says. "Him's almost bigger than me."
4968. Joey eats an apple, core and all.
4969. My mom returns safely from Kenya.
4970. We finally hit our stride with the perfect schedule for this season of life.
4971. We learn again the wisdom of being stubbornly immovable. We raise the bar. We watch the children swell with satisfaction when they jump far higher than they ever thought they could.
4972. We come in for a Sunday landing, affection and love the fruit of our labor.