Sunday, July 13, 2008

Nora's Corner: 365 Days Old

Pity the fourth child. All Mom and Dad's good intentions have been beaten out of them by three other children. Friends and family have expended a decent portion of their interest and enthusiasm on their predecessors. From the moment they get here, the space they inhabit has to be rented from someone else. Sorry kid--somebody got here before you.

Nora has borne it all admirably well. Though clingy and given to an aggressive shriek now and then, I think I would describe her general personality as "unassuming." Quickly and quietly she has found her niche in the family dynamic, sliding into place so effortlessly that now, after a year, it's difficult to remember what life was like without her gimping around the house. Ian, Sage, and Lucy fight amongst themselves, but they don't fight with Nora or fight about her. She has a fresh, open countenance that brings out the caring side in all of us. Now that she has started to take her first steps, who knows what other aspects of her character will be revealed--Lucy did not show her true colors until she was able to sprint--but I would be surprised if Nora did not live up the the promise of her first year. Happy Birthday, little Nora Bean. You're sweet and we love you.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Seasonal Affection Disorder

We've passed the two-year mark here in Elsewhere--two springs, two summers, two falls and a couple of interminable winters. Intellectually, I can appreciate why Andrew Wyeth spent the cold half of his year here in the Brandywine Valley, all the rolling hills dry and pale to match his brushstrokes, all the trees reduced to their spooky, skeletal structures, but it doesn't take more than a couple of months of cheerless winter before I start to question the wisdom of moving to this cold, dreary, ugly place. Why didn't I look for a job in San Diego? How did the East Coast get so dirty? Why did we ever leave my beloved Virginia? If the gray weather drags on long enough, I may question every decision I ever made--not just in my head, but out loud and repeatedly. After two years K. knows my litany very well. She rolls her eyes and waits for spring and summer to come back, driving out the doldrums with new leaves, new color, new light.

What a difference light makes: you can look at the same tree, the same grass, or the same sky, and very different emotions stir in your heart based on how the light catches it. Mute or drain the light, and the world is dying, cold and indifferent. Bathe the world in morning or evening glory, and you again inhabit a benevolent world--a world seemingly made just for you, just for this moment and its happiness.

Maybe next winter, when the black evenings creep earlier and earlier, when the year starts to lose its promise, maybe then I will remember that the light never truly falters, that with patience the clouds will part and the earth will turn and there is the light at last, rolling over the earth, it never really left. Elsewhere--my adoptive home--I didn't mean all those things I said about you. Come over here and let's be friends.

The meadow at Longwood Gardens

The Father-Son Campout at Lum's Pond

K. and Dad (far left) hold the line at Gettysburg's Little Round Top

Mom takes in Gettysburg's majesty

Baptism Stragglers at Valley Forge

Washington slept here, but we just slouched

So much depends on a blue wheelbarrow

Lucy finally ignites