In Northfield, the temperature is finally veering toward the abnormally warm today. For one day. But for this one day the coffee shop is a-bustle. Students bend over notebooks, sporting Birkenstocks and newly pedicured toenails; families shuffle in with mud clinging to boots and shoes, the kiddos pressing their faces to the glass refrigerator door, pointing out Oranginas and fruity sodas. Your father wants to put in paving stones this afternoon while the earth is pliable. I'm on my way to a meeting at church, a mock interview to prepare us for how to really interview potential new pastor candidates.
We have been to Florida and back. Thisbe was the happiest of all of us I think. She swam in a heated pool with a waterfall, made sandcastle after sandcastle on the beach (and then pressed the plastic figures of Anna and Elsa and Ariel into the impressionable walls), played mini-golf, rode on the shoulders of uncles and almost-uncles, fed giraffes, played dress-up at the Naples Children's museum, watched Frozen for the fourth time, laid out her clothing carefully in her room that was actually a closet, collected bits of dried coral and gingerly toed dead sea slugs, and just generally had a grand time.
|Somewhere over Georgia|
|"Look, Mom! A hat without ear flaps!"|
|Watching "Frozen" with Auntie Agnes and Greg|
You, on the other hand, became steadily less pleased with the world as the week progressed. Maybe it was teething, maybe it was exhaustion or a growth spurt or over-stimulation, maybe it was too many people or the absence of familiar objects or the desire to move and the inability to do so--who the hell knows. But by the end of the week you needed to be held almost constantly in order to stem the tide of shrieks. You woke more and more often at night and were less easily pacified. Letting you cry it out is one thing back at home...it's slightly different when there are a band of relatives to disturb in addition to your parents. On Thursday, when you woke at 5:45 and wouldn't go back to sleep, I bundled you into the stroller, cap on your head and pink striped beach towel cocooned around you, and set off in the pitch black 55 degree air. I ate a cinnamon roll and drank a latte at the cafe while you sucked on an indestructible baby book and attempted to nurse the nose of Mr. Bear. You've been slightly better since our return but you are still prone to flapping your arms like a tethered pigeon and shrieking for no apparent reason. You still don't roll, still don't utter consonant sounds, still prefer an expression of stoicism to one of glee. When placed on your belly you fuss and raise your butt in a half-hearted Jane Fonda exercise move.
|Refusing to roll down the Rolling Hill at the Children's Museum|
After you and you sister wake up from your afternoon naps, we'll go outside. I'll push you in the stroller and we'll gulp in the warm air. Thisbe will wear her rubber frog boots and experiment with the tonalities of mud stomping and slurping. Dada will putter with paving stones or dead branches or the broken car window. We'll eat an unimpressive meal from the crockpot (something involving frozen stew vegetables and chicken and a gravy packet) and if I remember we'll attempt to make a Lenten centerpiece with felt and burlap and a candle holder from church.
The weather in Florida was lovely, but it was a kind of boozy happiness: imbibed quickly and resulting in warm and fuzzy feelings for a limited amount of time. Today is happiness for real, the happiness that comes after you have waded through grief or cold or loneliness. The kind that feels earned rather than bought. In Naples you could see, on the skin of the tanned and weathered crowd, how the days there just keep unfolding into nests of predictable warmth and ease, a permanent blur of sun and shimmer. Here we know spring as tempestuous and fickle. Sun and then snow and then warm and then ice again.
Oh Spring, you changeable vixen! You equivocating ingenue! You budding sociopath! Your strip tease is endless but we will wait. Wait and wait. Until the gray fades into a distant point. Until green burns our eyelids down.