Last night, Lucas picked The Butter Battle Book from his shelf and we lay down together on the big bottom bunk. Seuss’s words were rhythmic and insistent, Lucas snuggled his four foot long stuffed snake, I tried to think of the right questions to ask. “Do you think they needed to fight about the butter side of the bread?” “No! They just needed to TALK about it!” This is rote for our big four year old.
Ah, yes. Four years old. Much has happened while I’ve been away.
There have been birthdays, adventures, books being read. We’ve roasted chickens, potatoes, cabbages and marshmallows. We built bunk beds, hired an architect, got a dog. (That’s him, up above – we call him Oski. Like this, not this.) Through it all, a nagging sense that I wasn’t observing enough, wasn’t documenting enough, wasn’t being enough. Writing is how I practice paying attention – and here is where I practice writing. I felt myself stretched thin over a frame of board meetings, co-op days, classroom volunteering. It seemed no coincidence that we hadn’t baked bread in weeks, months.
Still, memories were being made, even when I wasn’t making notes. Weddings, summer dinners stretching well past bedtime, the annual block party. We spent seven nights in the high Sierra, with campfire songs, deep nighttime silences, Bakesale Betty’s chicken sandwiches. Jacob borrowed a guitar and wrote a song for table night, and he and Sonia and Lucas took to the stage and danced to Tchaikovsky and Katy Perry. They rambled over and through camp with a new level of independence, leaving us for hours at a time while they explored, built, daydreamed all on their own. One morning they sat perched on the observation deck and looked out over the ancient valley; they drew pictures of shadows and storms crossing the range of light, and then they poured into the next thing, ebbing and flowing and floating away.
As ever, they made friends with the staffers, and I thanked the universe for these confident and curious role models, springing like young gods from the rocks and trees and bright thin air of the mountains around us. Someday, we parents all said to each other, smiling. It squeezes my heart when I think how soon somedays come.
At Montaña de Oro we follow Linna and Lance (Grant and Gruncle) along the high, sunny bluff trail. Jacob is grumpy and grumpier. “I don’t want to HIKE, I want to go to the BEACH!” (“This is the only way to GET to the BEACH!”) Neither of us is being our best self. We slip down at last to a small cove, bordered on each end by rock outcroppings and tide pools. My breath calms. Jacob throws rocks into the water. The day before, out by Morro Rock, Linna and Lance told a story for the some-hundredth or thousandth time — of long-ago me, reaching this very same sand, spreading my arms wide with joy, and running, running along the break.
I am really struggling to find my way into Bird of Paradise. I feel pressure in many directions, my hamstrings are drum-tight, stability is eluding me. But I want to get there. Remember, comes my teacher’s voice. Do not be attached to the postures. They are just shapes. It’s what’s going on inside that is the yoga. It is the practice, the practice and not the shape that is the yoga. I place my feet at the center of my mat and stand there, trying to root. I let go of the idea of flying and hold on to the idea of just showing up.
There is still time to get some bits of summer stored here.
For the first time in months, bread bakes. The curling warmth of its smell drifts in waves, playing like light through the kitchen, spreading out into our home.
These fragments I have shored against my ruins ~ T.S. Eliot