Saturday, July 28, 2007

My Time of Day

My time of day is the dark time
A couple of deals before dawn
When the street belongs to the cop
And the janitor with the mop
And the grocery clerks are all gone.

When the smell of the rainwashed pavement
Comes up clean, and fresh, and cold
And the streetlight lamp
Fills the gutter with gold

That's my time of day
My time of day
Any you're the only doll I've ever wanted to share it with me.

-Frank Loesser, Guys and Dolls

Since she was born, Nora and I have been taking quite a few walks in the moonlight, especially during that liminal period--not quite midnight, not quite dawn--when both the human and animal worlds are operating on a skeleton crew. At first I was too foggy-headed to do anything but count the lights in buildings throughout our apartment complex. More often than not, the same rooms would be lit up every night, some of them with the familiar blue-white flicker denoting misspent youth. After I got tired of feeling morally superior to couch potatoes, I started to venture out to the main road to listen to the low roar of distant traffic. It reminded me of the summer between college semesters when I worked the dish pit at Red Robin. Sauntering home at two in the morning, still smelling of grease and bleach, I got a childish delight in walking the dividing line between lanes, all the motorists snug in their beds for another three or four hours.

You keep strange, sparse company when you walk around after midnight. This morning, at around 3am, a man pulled up in a truck and asked me where he could find a convenience store that was still open. I really had no idea. If New York is "the city that never sleeps," Elsewhere could be called "the city that sleeps"--at 8pm even downtown is barren and ghostly. Out here in the country, I've spotted the occasional black flap of a bat or pale hop of a wild hare, but to be honest I've had more close encounters in broad daylight. In the wooded railroad tracks behind our apartment I've startled hidden deer and stared down baby raccoons, but always in the bright contrast of mid-afternoon. Now, in the early hours of morning I hear the incessant twittering of nocturnal romantics, but it wasn't until yesterday that Nora and I met a frog the size of a plum, who moved only after I brushed his hind leg with a twig.

Your thoughts can be surprisingly clear when you walk in familiar surroundings removed of people. You see the same buildings and streets uncomplicated by their daily purposes--things temporarily without motive, things as they can only be at rest. I haven't had any life-changing epiphanies, but my thoughts flow without interruption and I sing softly in the open air. Years ago, when Ian was a baby, I walked him around the church across the street, belting out the wrong words to "Danny Boy." You don't have license to do these things without a fussy baby on your shoulder. Last week I was shuffling Nora around a strip mall when we crossed paths with a street sweeper and its driver. It was an hour before sunrise, light enough to see my pajamas and disheveled hair, but the question on the driver's lips faded when he saw little Nora in my arms. I wouldn't be up this early without a newborn to coddle. Thanks, doll.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Little More a' Nora

"A Lullaby for Nora"
Come to sleep, my dear little baby
Come to sleep, in the dark of the night
Come to sleep, for I am right with you
For this is home.
--By Ian

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Introducing Little Baby Nora

Late Thursday afternoon, K. thought she might be having contractions. By the time the kids went to bed at 8:30, she was sure. At 9 we put on Emma, and by 11 we were driving to the birth center. Along the way we saw an opossum, looking for a safe way across the road. I'd never seen a live opossum before, so we took this as a lucky sign.

At 1:04am little Nora was born. (On her uncle Bryce's birthday, no less. Happy Birthday, Bryce! Have a niece.) She knew mom was dreading a long labor, and made haste in a very obliging manner. This is a picture of her just a few minutes after she was born.As with the other kids, we bounced names off of her until Nora stuck. Her middle name is Christine, kinda sorta halfway between the names of her mother and aunt.

This is a picture of Nora's happy, bleary-eyed mom before a decent rest.
And this is a picture of her dad, obviously after one.
Nora's sisters have been very excited to hold her. Even the deposed Princess Lucy has been eager to nurture "baby No-wa".
Proud big brother Ian immediately wrote Nora a lullaby (lyrics to follow in another post).
We got to liking the name Nora after we heard it attached to Norah Jones, and little Nora has taken it upon herself to wail a bit in honor of the bluesy singer.Her voice doesn't precisely convey the "honey and smoke" of Miss Jones, but it's sweet nonetheless.

Here's Nora and her mother, sharing a moment. We can't believe she's finally here!

PS: 8 lbs, 1 oz, 20 and 1/2 inches. Dark hair, obviously.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

The Earth is Full

"For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare..."
Doctrine and Covenants 104:17

When I told my mother my plan to become an English professor, she laughed and said, "Prepare for a life of poverty." My father was a professor when I was growing up, and no doubt part of my decision to become a teacher sprang from a desire to emulate him, but I took my mother's advice to heart and tried to cultivate inexpensive tastes. After a brief (two-year) stint in a grad program and an even briefer (one-year) stint teaching 9th- and 11th-grade English, I ultimately found my calling in the law and joined a professional class where conspicuous consumption is the norm. As I slowly ascend the professional ladder, I want to occasionally remind myself that, as a young man, I was willing to be poor and happy.

Say that small pleasures are the best pleasures, or say that God is in the details, it's always been true in my book. This morning the kids were playing in the yard behind our apartment and noticed that the thorny bushes bordering the grass were dotted with raspberries. What started as an aimless morning became a magic hour of berry-picking, carefully peeling back prickly leaves and branches to pluck handful after handful of soft, red raspberries whose sole purpose was to ripen in the sun and present themselves for our diligent hands. The five of us were totally engrossed, moving from bush to bush, weaving and bobbing our heads looking for the next undiscovered cluster.

So went the morning, and so went the day. A friend invited me to go bike riding along the Brandywine, and for another hour my body was immersed in the bright colors and grateful sweat of summer. I came home, read two chapters of Charlotte's Web with the kids, took a nap, and passed the remainder of the afternoon in the pool.While K. made a homemade pizza for dinner, Sage and I made a custard tart to go with our raspberries. Tomorrow we'll eat it for breakfast. I'm thirty-one years old and scraping by on a government salary, but in the meantime here's a five-year old girl holding raspberries in a yellow bowl. Tell me that wouldn't make you happy.