Teen World

This blog has been jammed with soccer, soccer and even more soccer all fall — a little odd, from a woman who ducks every time the soccer ball heads even anywhere near me along the sidelines.

But the soccer field and the locker room and the school bus is the terrain of my teenage daughter this year. The night of the game under the lights I walked across the field afterward — in a coat and hat and scarf, the first snowflakes tiny glitters — and realized I was treading in her familiar space.

It’s such a cliché — the days crawl and the years fly — but there’s truth in all these clichés, too. When she was an infant, I realized — busy as I was then with another child and that relentless maple syrup business — that this was all I was going to get in this life. Just this second time around of being a new mother. That sentiment has carried all through her life, crazy and jumbled as it’s been, defined as a single parent household. And yet here she is, on a soccer field, laughing and happy with girls and their ponytails. I can’t help but wonder curiously, Where will all these running steps on those soccer fields around Vermont carry her in this life?

We create meanings from our unconscious interpretation of early events, and then we forge our present experiences from the meaning we’ve created. Unwittingly, we write the story of our future from narratives based on the past…

— Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts

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Edge of the Earth Might Be Here…

…. or not.

There’s nothing quite like visiting your very early childhood territory with your youngest child, who’s now 14 and partly worldly as heck and partly a jigsaw-puzzle-loving kid.

An unrequited desire of mine had been to visit somewhere or someone from my past — a college best friend or a former lover. Instead, on near impulse, my daughter and I visited northern New Mexico. Hiking through the national forest, I realized I’ll never be able to view New Mexico as a dispassionate visitor, only — mysteries of mysteries — through the dewy and amorous eyes of very early childhood.

Edge of the world? Surely in early childhood the edge is always tantalizingly near…..

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Birthing Day

14 years ago I walked down to our sugarhouse in the early morning and leaned against the doors, a piece of me longing to remain there, static, still, until eternity. We never locked anything in those days. I was there to simply close the doors with an eyehook as we expected to be gone for a few days.

Unlike my first pregnancy, I knew at a certain point in my second pregnancy that this child would be born by caesarian. While I was leaning against the rough boards of those doors, my husband and 6-year-old daughter were breakfasting on oatmeal in the kitchen.

I was utterly unprepared to become a mother again. I hadn’t even begun to imagine names for this child — girl or boy, that morning we still didn’t know. But all pregnancies end, one way or another, as everything does in this world. On this 14thanniversary of my second birthing day, I’m always reminded of being on that extremely ancient and utterly contemporary world journey of motherhood, of bringing babes into this world, tending them, raising them, all the while gradually letting go. An infinity of mothers have passed through this earthly realm, and yet, what sacred largesse.

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Spring Nourishment

The two pear trees beside our house had failure to thrive when we moved in — more stick than tree. These trees are some of my silent, longer-term projects, feeding them manure and attention. Substitute veggies and sausage for manure, and that’s my approach to parenting. While I’m planting leeks, barefoot and happy in the garden, the 14-year-olds are baking mini cupcakes, then loading the Toyota with a kayak and the pizza-shaped floatie, dreaming of the not-so-distant future when they’ll be at the wheel of the car, fulfilling the rural Vermont kid’s dream of unfettered freedom with a tank of gas and the open road.

In the meantime, while they’re nourishing themselves with kid-plans and laughter, I’m entranced by the violets on the lawn, wondering if the gifted peonies will bloom this year…

Sadness at twilight . . .
villain! I have
let my hand
Cut that peony

— Buson

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Vermont Gold

To get to my daughter’s preschool, years ago, I had to drive up the Center Road from Hardwick to Greensboro, along enormous farm fields. In May, the fields were nearly covered with blooming dandelions — or dandies as she called them.

‘Tis the season now for blooming dandelions — their first and brightest bloom of the season, against blue mountains and iridescent green fields.

When I was very young, with my years still countable on one hand, my family traveled to Ames, Iowa, from the New Mexican desert where I had always lived. In Iowa, I discovered green: sunlight through leaves and running barefoot on grass beneath a sprinkler. In that early-childhood magical way, this upthrusting spring season always reminds me of the implicit goodness of being four again.

It would be good to give much thought, before
you try to find words for something so lost,
for those long childhood afternoons you knew…

— Rilke

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(Not a dandelion….)