Kid Project

Deciding she wants to improve her cursive handwriting, my daughter writes a careful sentence in her notebook and hands it to me. I’m sitting beside her on the couch, reading Volkswagen Blues. In my clumsy cursive, I pen an answer to her sentence and hand the notebook to her.

As we fill a page back and forth, a curious thing happens. My handwriting, never stellar anyway, unwinds into a nearly illegible scrawl while hers, tidy and careful, improves.

One little moment of her childhood, of my motherhood.

At five this morning, my teenager and I shovel out her car — so many inches of fine, perfect snow. When she leaves, I keep shoveling by the light of the living room window. Today, snow will fall all day, and maybe we’ll remember it as the day we baked blueberry pound cake and the trampoline frame disappeared in the snow.

Or not.

But for a few moments, sweating from shoveling, my hat pushed back, I stand listening to my breath and the far-off sound of a snowplow, in those millions of snowflakes, twirling their way to earth.

He wanted to know what kind of people had decided, in the early 1840s, to give up everything and travel across most of a continent simply because they had heard that the land was good and life was better on the shores of the Pacific. What sort of people had had the courage to do that?

“Ordinary people.”

— Jacques Poulin, Volkswagen Blues

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Pre-storm photo, January 2019