Wednesday, May 14, 2014
I can hear the sounds of my kids playing at recess
I'm sitting on my back step soaking up the sun, yearning to feel the promised effects of Vitamin-D penetrating my skin and seeping into my veins and stimulating my dull brain.
Writing on a laptop outside, with the midday sun directly overhead, is tricky. It's hard to see the words on the screen for the glare. What I can see --mirror mirror--is my furrowed brow and deeply lined nose and frowning, lined, mouth reflected back at me. Those lines that say, "you've had your day in the sun. Time for some shade and a bit of overpriced beauty cream, Honey."
I keep dipping my head to see the true color of my hair in the sun. It almost looks blonde. It looks so dark and dirty to me in artificial light. The shallow vanities of a once tow-headed girl turned brown-haired woman.
But back to that sound. That sound-- the sound of children squealing, their bodies exuding the joy of liberation. The joy of being released from the rigid walls, the uncomfortable chairs, the assault of overhead fluorescent lights and the expectations of overly strict teacher's aids--is a good sound. That sound is the sound of a happy childhood. I live for that sound.
Last night after helping Isla to bed, I took our giant puppy out for a final frolic in the moonlight. It was bright. The air was cool but not cold. I could hear the breeze whizzing through the baby-leafed trees and vibrating across the grass. Wood frogs croaked. Spring peepers sounded their sustained siren call. There were thin stripey clouds, like iron bars, waving across the moon. The sky looked like a painted backdrop behind a stage. An illustration in a children's book about Gods, Kings, Knights and dragons and their waiting, always waiting, princesses.
As I stood there, my bare feet numb in the cold grass, I imagined being an Indian. A native American without access to Google and Facebook and 24- hour news and the constant bombardment of perpetually-updated information. Just me. My dog. This meadow on this hillside. Those unmoving mountains in the distance, and that constantly shifting sky, showing off its stunning, unselfconscious moon.
Who was the first person to call the moon "the moon"? What did the Indians, who must have stood here once, looking at that same moon, that same archer Orion who goes from lying on his back across the east mountain, shooting straight up into the sky in December, to standing upright, bold and ready, straight above the house, his bow pointing north in spring, think when they looked at that same, younger, moon?
If I hadn't had an artificially-lit house, a computer and a television and a smart phone, a sink filled with dinner dishes, a pile of unfolded laundry to fold, and two young children calling to me across the meadow, I would have kept walking in that moonlight. I would have walked straight into the woods to see the shadows cast by the trees. And maybe I would have stripped a piece of bark from a white birch tree and found a sharp stick to write with. And I'd write it all down. I'd write all the words I could think of for how the full moon, and the sky that appears to hold it, suspended, makes me feel.
I would write down every question I had about what it was I was seeing and hearing there and every noise I heard, including the creaking of an unlucky tree that can't yield to the wind as noiselessly, and uncomplaining, as the rest.