Friday, October 28, 2011


As is usual in these parts, this week fall abruptly turned off the lights and left, slamming the door on its way out. Where Tuesday morning dawned sunny and pleasant, the streets lined with red and green and gold, Tuesday night it rained and Wednesday it snowed. Our beleaguered walnut tree began Tuesday as an ethereally golden harbinger of doom and by Wednesday evening it was a stick with a sodden pile of brown muck at its base. All done. Next!

Luckily for my mood I like this time of year, with its frost-on-the-grass mornings and its bleak, unpretentious prospects. Where some people get melancholy and weepy as the days shorten up and night falls faster, I feel a little tingling of anticipation (books fire holidays birthday Food pies stuffing PRESENTS), which Helen, as a fellow late-fall birthday-er, totally gets. We started reading The Long Winter during the uniformly beautiful days of August and had to put it up because "it makes me want it to be wiiiiinter." Well, okay, Muffin, although I wouldn't really call this one a paean to the glories of snow. I get it. You're my daughter, through and through.

The other one in my house, though. If I hadn't been present and accounted for at his birth I might be starting to wonder right about now whether he truly belonged to me. This week, for example, he came home with a stack of math problems and set about doing them cheerfully and even, I would say, with relish and zeal. And zest. He talks about them, kind of smacking his lips with the deliciousness of it. Meanwhile, I vaguely looked over the packet in the interest of parental involvement and immediately felt a build up of static cling in my head. I don't remember all my dreams this week but I sense that one involved panicky toil over just such a stack of problems.

In contrast but related, Wednesday he got the chance to go see Obama speak in downtown Denver. After a little convincing related to the okayness of missing Bear Club and the once-in-a-lifetime-ness and the crowds-will-be-fine, he agreed to go. "How was it?" I asked when he got back, excited for him. "Good," he said in that slightly accented monotone which means he did enjoy himself, however little he may effuse. "What surprised you the most?" This is a little conversational gambit I use sometimes to get around the "how-was-it-great" problem. He was silent for a while. Sack of potatoes silent. He might have been thinking, or he might just have been absenting himself from a difficult line of questioning.

"Well? Anything? What was most surprising?"

More silence. Then: "The snow."

Well. Okay then. The snow. You'll be able to tell your grandkids you saw Obama and it was great, it snowed.

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