Sunday, June 15, 2014

Mr. and Mrs. Mallard

"What do you want to be when you grow up?" I say. Myra and I swing our legs, a gargantuan garden bench our perch. We scan the river for Mr. and Mrs. Mallard no where to be seen.

"Like how many kids?" she says.

"No, what do you want to BE when you grow up?" I carve a fingernail into the foil and wax paper of a lifesaver roll.

"Like my name?" she chirps in ascending scale.

"No," I say. I flip a cherry lifesaver from the roll, pop it in my mouth. She nibbles the corner of a hand sized chocolate bar, a square one. "No," I say again, "what do you want to BE?"

"Like type?" she cocks her head. "Like boy or girl?" She tries for another nibble. A flap of gold foil pokes her nose. I clank the life saver into my cheek.

"No," I say, "like, what do you want to DO?"

"Oh." She tries for another bite. The foil flubs her nose again. "I don't know." She plucks the chocolate from the foil sheet. "Can't I just take it out?"

"No, it will sprinkle crumbs on your dress and melt." I open the foil like a book and stuff it back in. "Here, just fold it over like this." I crumple the corner.


"So what do you want to BE?"

"A girl." Red ringlets and green paisley dress, she scans the river bank. "Look, the water's bubbly over there." She points at a white smudge. I crunch the cherry saver.

"Who's the best girl you know?" I say. 


"Who's the best woman you know?"

"You." We nod. The river rushes, a trickling rush from our perch. We swing our legs. "I would have said Jesus," she says "'cause he's the nicest one forever."

"Huh." We exchange listening sounds. "Excepts he's a boy," I say.

"Yeah." A neon green bike cycles by on the trail.

"Anything you want me to be praying about for you?" I say.

"Like at bedtime?" She flashes her blue eyes at me like blinking beacons.

"Anything you want."

"Oh, like bad dreams. I had a bad dream someone was trying to kill me." She strikes the casual beat of adult chat.

"Kill you?" I splutter. "What do you mean?"

"Someone had a bunch of animals they put out," she says. "And they tried to fire some fire on me and kill me. And then I tried to kick him." She nods to the commentary. I note her prayer. But I notice fresh how she's mastered the call and return of conversation.

Bad dreams, foible of childhood, we map the terrain, unmask the shadows, practice the gentle sway of words exchanged. Mr. and Mrs. Mallard never show up, but mother and daughter never leave.


5426. The hot water heater breaks. Again. Craig fixes it. Again.

5427. Cerissa has the Tuesday girls over. She spoils us with salad, balsamic and basil. We dig perennials in her front bed for Rose.

5428. I make rice salad for dinner. "Jesus, thank-you that Mom served us expensive food for dinner," Lucy prays.

5429. Craig's mom celebrates another birthday.

5430. Jack weeds the whole wide long garden over and over. He pulls a chair up garden-side, gestures for me to sit, watch the show. He weeds. I recline, eat an ice cream sandwich.

5431. Dad and Mom join us for bbq. Craig makes burgers; we stack 'em high and deep. Conversation weaves with the trill of unexpected turns. We laugh until we cry.

5432. "Jack's feeding his spider some lunch," Lucy says. "I need some tape for it so the jumping spider doesn't get out."

5433. "For SHAME," Jane shouts across the back lawn. "Mom, he's gonna build a new fort just so he doesn't have to be in there with Myra." He hangs his head. They make a new plan.

5434. I catch a stroke of the flu, turn by turn become truly pathetic. Of course Mom know just how to cheer me, and Craig can still make me laugh.

5435. Peppermint soap, a bunch of bananas, ginger candy, more candy, lollipops, chapstick -- a Trader Joe's run.

5436. A green striped summer dress, summer aren't you almost here?

5437. We take the kids to their first parade, a Flag Day parade, farm town style. A family of dear friends joins us.

5438. "That is something I am not going to forget for a very long time," Lucy commentates the parade. She pats a haul of candy the size of her face.

5439. We bbq burgers on the farm. It's a shindig of friends and family and mustard-ketchup-drippy burgers. Craig's mom bakes three pies.

5440. Father's Day, one of my favorite days. I celebrate my father, first pillar of masculine strength, devotion, and love. I celebrate my husband, the wellspring of our home. And a shout out to Craig's dad, the first man he respected.

5441. Strength flows from these men, substance that is impossible to counterfeit. Hats off to the men who hold up the sky.

1 comment:

  1. Holding up the sky.....I love that you give us vision for what that really means. Every image contributing.