Dear Thing 3,
It never fails. On the days we walk to school and I wish I had my camera, I never do.
Today was such a treat to be with you. Do you remember? The sun, in its autumnal slant, so surgical and bright, like a laser, but weaker than in summer was still strong as there were no clouds. Frost had cured on the grass blades and the top cover of the fallen leaves we encountered on our walk out to school today and you asked me, “Where does the frost come from? It’s so sparkly.”
“It’s like a billion diamonds on the ground.” I said.
“Just for us,” you said.
“It’s from the moisture in the air; the dew. It freezes on the leaves and in the morning, we get diamonds.”
“They don’t last long, these diamonds. There are so many of them! It’s like a field of them!” you said and then fell silent. We stopped to look at a few. We moved our heads around to see more sparkles.
You will be 10 tomorrow.
It seems like every milestone is a new milestone in your life. That doesn’t make sense. I guess I just mean that it’s all so much. You’re the last one.
Two complete hands. The end of the two hands.
Before we left, I considered my camera / phone. I decided to leave it at home, amidst the breakfast smells of pancake and coffee. I prefer to be present, free of it. As much as you see me tinkering with it, T3, I really am better off without it.
“How many days are in a year? 365? I thought that there were only 364 days,” you asked as I helped you with your pilled black knit gloves today, the ones I bought in bulk at the Amish auction all those years ago with our friend, “RICK!”
“Well, the going rate these days, is 365. I believe leap year makes it 366, but I will admit my facts on that are loose, so I’m not entirely sure although I do believe 365 is the predominant number. Ready?” I asked, holding open the door, but thinking to myself back at my own childhood and remembering the 364/365 proposition more than 365/366.
“Can I have lemon cake and chocolate frosting?” you asked.
“Why? And WHAT?! Who eats that?! Only goofballs…” I said.
“This goofball wants that,” you said.
I looked at you funny, pretending to be offended by the mention and I could see your smile fade. You were a little crestfallen. The joke had gone too far. You asked me, “Mom… can’t I have a lemon cake with chocolate frosting?”
“Absolutely you can.” I said and your smile returned.
On the way down the street you asked me, “What’s attachment? What did they mean about ‘not getting attached’ to that otter in the video?”
You were talking about “Otter 501,” the story about a stray newborn otter in Monterey, California.
“It means no eye contact between the trainers and the otter; that’s why they wore those welder’s masks and ponchos, so the otter couldn’t see their eyes. Did you notice they didn’t talk to her either? She could learn their voices and prefer one trainer over another trainer. In animals, it’s called ‘imprinting’ but in humans, because we believe we’re so different than animals, we call it ‘attachment.’ It’s basically falling in love with the otter, which could get in the way with her ability to go back to the ocean.”
“I would be attached anyway to that otter,” you said. “Helmet or not. I love her from my tv.”
Speaking of attachment, we didn’t take your dog with us today. He wasn’t ready to go. When I returned, he seemed fine with the temporary abandonment.
It all goes too fast. Way too fast. I want it to slow down.
I was so compelled by the frost on the leaves, and my urge to remember this moment, that when I came home I picked up my camera and went back out to try to capture some of the sparkle but suspecting all the time that it would be the inverse of what we hear about supernatural phenomena: that it’s not viewable to the naked eye, or in this instance the iPhone. I suspect that I will need my big, actual camera to take proper pictures of the sparkly leaves. But here are a few unsparkly leaves…
Here’s another cool frosty leaf:
I want you to live life beautifully, T3. I want you to ask questions, always.
Do you remember overhearing me and Dad talking about “the silent treatment” this morning? You asked me, “What is the silent treatment?” and I told you. Then you asked me why I was talking about it and I told you. You asked me, “Why would anyone do that? Why not just talk about your feelings? We don’t all have to agree…” and we talked about that. Then you came to a conclusion all by yourself when you said, “Well, giving the silent treatment is cruel.”? My heart swelled when you said that. “It’s easier said than done, to not give the silent treatment, bud…” and you didn’t agree.
Life has miracles and wondrous moments happening right in front of us every day, all the time! There is no reason to think it is boring, we just have to be willing to open our eyes. You’re pretty good at that already; it’s just that as we age, we tend to forget those things. I hope you never do.
As I ascended the hill on my second walk back home this morning:
I saw this. I was so glad I went back out to try to take some sparkle pics.
Watching the leaves billow and plume … it could do it all day. It seems weird, I guess, to be so enraptured by such an everyday thing, leaf blowing… your mom’s eccentric views, but to me it’s like a ballet between the gardener and the leaves. It’s poetry in motion.
The leaf-blowing man must’ve thought I was with the NSA or something. I hope I didn’t worry him.
When I came back home, the house was warm and expectant. It still smelled of maple syrup, coffee and pancakes. The dishwasher was still running and the lights were on under the cabinets. Laundry, as usual, was waiting to be folded or put away. I came to the conclusion yesterday, T3, that smells tell me how busy I’ve been. If I smell laundry in the dryer, pumpkin bread in the oven and tea in my mug, I’ve had a busy day. These are the smells of progress.
I didn’t want to waste a moment, I had these thoughts fresh on my mind. I find that it’s hard for me to concentrate these days; I’m still so sad about Mimi. So I wanted to get these words off to you as soon as I walked in.
After I took off my hat and gloves and put my coat away, I turned my way into my office / guest room and Gandalf, that massive gray barn cat of ours leapt off the bed and scurried out the door; I could hear his back claws grab whatever they could of the carpeting to ensure a speedy getaway as he careened and serpentined out of the room. It was like he was saying, “Oh crap! Busted!” (Because I can’t stand them when they’re on our beds.) He and his sister are irritated with me: they are both as big as watermelons and I’ve cut back their kibble rations to half of what they’re used to. Lean times ahead for the kitties, I’m afraid. I know they’re not ballooning up from us; it’s all the chipmunks they’ve hunted.
Well, even though tomorrow is your 10th birthday, I’ll tell you a secret that your auntie T told me one day when I turned 45: it’s not really your 10th birthday. It’s the first day of your 11th year. When you were born, that was the first day of your first year. The last day of your first year was the day before your first birthday. You’d been “1” all along. When you turned 1, it was the first day of your second year… and so it goes. So today… is the last day of your tenth year.
I love you, Thing 3. Happy birthday.