Monday, March 26, 2012

A Cold March Cure

A cold spring:
the violet was flawed on the lawn.
For two weeks or more the trees hesitated;
the little leaves waited,
carefully indicating their characteristics. [...]
-- Elizabeth Bishop, from A Cold Spring

Today there was an abrupt change in the weather. Last week we were at the beach, and today, well, it was spitting snow. I lit a fire in the stove. It felt strange, as if we were thrust into a foreign country without traveling there. The wind was howling around the corners of the house. Poor Buttercup, cutting her third molar, had made for a long night for us all. I searched the house for strong tea or coffee and discovered I was out. The day was shaping up to be a failure. So Blueberry and I determined to search for an antidote to the cold and grumpy morning.

Here is what we found.

Picture of a rocket ship headed to space.

Red striped straws contrasting with the pretty cup.

Blueberry's birthday cards still gallantly standing on the sideboard. Babar and pirate and ballerina and fairies being conspiratorial.

Finished birthday thank you notes.

Buttercup's first bowl of porridge.

Buttercup's enjoyment of said porridge. Mmmm!

Dressing Buttercup in a new silk before her bath.

Freshly washed pretty baby in a cheerful outfit.

Amazing-smelling stock from Nonni.

Buttercup's bright baubles.

Making lists in Mama's lovely Christmas journal with a good pen.

Making the perfect cup of maple hot cocoa.

And drinking it out of a spring-y mug.

Dancing silly to Elizabeth Mitchell while making dinner.

Brainstorming for craft ideas.

Delving into new birthday books.

Pajama dancing before bed.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Five Years

My first girl. My sweet Blueberry. You were once so tiny, and now you are a long-legged, brilliant child. How sweet it is to think that you turned five years old last week. It would be easy to say it is bittersweet, thinking of how quickly the time has passed, but there is no bitterness to tinge the sweetness of the girl you are becoming. I relished every delightful and challenging phase with you, dear one. From the tiny hands to the to chubby hands to the nimble-fingered hands. You are five now. A whole hand.

First Birthday

I remember you were thinking about taking your first steps around this time. And you were sweet, lively, never tired, happy. You woke with a smile on sunshiny mornings, snuggled right next to me, and brought me more and more stories to read at night so you could delay sleep. You tenacious baby.

Second Birthday

I remember you beginning to explore your independence. By the end of the year, you weaned, you stopped wearing diapers, you became more excited by art and books. I remember everything, because I was there. I saw you.

Third Birthday

When you were three, you rode your first trike, became a princess, a ballerina, a mermaid, a fairy. Your imagination took off even further and you immersed yourself in stories, weaving fantasy into our everyday lives. I played dress up with you almost every day.

Fourth Birthday

Ah, my sweet fairy. You are creative, outgoing, eager to please. This year you began to do some lessons at home and are a bright and curious student. You are both energetic and thoughtful, spontaneous and intuitive. You began to have real nightmares this year, too, as you start to realize there are dark things in this beautiful world. I remember because I held you, walked the floor with you, read Peter Rabbit to you in the middle of the night and told you it was ok. Because it was. It was good.

Fifth Birthday

You, my Bluest Blueberry girl, are the sweetest, smartest, brightest five year old I know. You are a fantastic big sister, a big help to your mama, and keep us all full of life. You are learning to write letters, and love to help me cook. You are a pirate, a fairy, a butterfly, a mother. Every day is new and exciting. You have had your first big girl haircut, you have lost your first tooth, you have watched your little sister take part of your place with generosity and joy, realized that your parents are a bit human after all, you have started to find your voice. You are funny, witty, creative, silly, and empathetic. You are both a challenge and a delight. Some people have called you "a handful," but I know better. You are a whole hand.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sure Signs

It's strange. This is the winter that wasn't yet I am so glad to be seeing the back of it. The light has changed here on the coast of Maine and the wind is blowing warmly. We're starting up our regular walks again, thank goodness. Blueberry, Buttercup and I are all cabin-feverish and want to kick up our heels in true spring-coltish fashion (though only Blueberry really does).

Everywhere we look there are signs of spring. Mud, for starters. We are definitely in cummings' "Just-/ spring when the world is mud-/ luscious."

Blueberry likes to yell her favorite lines from "The Hippopotamus Song,"

Mud, mud, glorious mud
Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood
So follow me follow down to the hollow
And there let me wallow in glorious mud (!!!)

while stomping about in puddles and squishing her rubber-boot clad feel deep into the dark mud. No wonder spring is affectionately known as mud season hereabouts.

We're drying everything outside -- clothes, sheets, diapers. There is nothing better than the smell of line-dried sheets when you crawl into bed at night.

I made a birthday dress for my almost five year old girl!

Blueberry's birthday always falls the day or two before the vernal equinox, so the fact that I'm searching for playsilks and gardening tools to give her and planning cupcakes and creating paper toys must mean that spring is close!

Buttercup really wants to walk.

She will no doubt be taking her first steps in early spring. This seems so entirely fitting. I have visions of us working in the garden and watching her toddle over to watch us planting peas. Reminds me of one of my favorite Van Gogh's.

(First Steps, After Millet)

Now we will be transformed. Turn the inside out, our faces to the sun, crawl out of the cave and sweep the last of winter's clutter out the door. Mama having the energy to clean the house with 30 pounds of beautiful breastfed baby strapped her back? That's a sure sign.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lost to the Sea

"The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem to be filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster [...]"
--- Elizabeth Bishop from "One Art"

Where has the month gone? February, strange warm February, has skittered away from us as if it were bouncing then caught by a playful gust of wind....

Balls are at once delightful and cruel toys. Much like balloons or socks, they seem to have been designed with "the intent to be lost."

Blueberry takes her beloved blue ball to the beach. Bounces it.

The ball finds itself unhanded, the ball likes its freedom.

At this point I cannot help but refer you to Berryman's "The Ball Poem."

What is the boy now, who has lost his ball,
What, what is he to do? I saw it go
Merrily bouncing, down the street, and then
Merrily over--there it is in the water!
No use to say 'O there are other balls':
An ultimate shaking grief fixes the boy
As he stands rigid, trembling, staring down
All his young days into the harbour where
His ball went.

I encourage you to read the rest of the poem -- an incredible musing on the "epistemology of loss" -- but Blueberry, watching the ball taken by the wind and drift of the tide, experiences the loss without Berryman's "ultimate shaking grief ," but rather with wistful acceptance. I refuse, yes refuse, to compare Bishop's version of loss ("Practice losing something everyday") to Berryman's ("People will take balls, /Balls will be lost always, little boy, /And no one buys a ball back.") because, well, it gets too gendered. But my darling girl takes her disaster in stride. She cries for a brief moment, realizes the ocean is far too cold to race in after her ball, then asks if we can sing a goodbye song to the ball. She imagines the ball finding its way over the sea to another child. It is graceful. She is practicing.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Nine Months

Tomorrow my sweet little Buttercup turns nine months old. I am feeling poignant about it, even though I know it's the one-year mark that everyone celebrates. But nine months really means something. It signifies that my wee one has been outside the womb for as long as she was in. She has grown and changed and been marked by the world. The slow process of growing inside has turned to the slow process of peeling away from her mama.

She is crawling, pulling herself up on things in an effort to stand on her own chubby legs, learning that she can communicate through specific sounds instead of the unspoken communication only I can understand. She has (almost) six teeth and has started eating "real" food. She is judicious, sweet, grounded, bright, and secure. She is her own self.

Welcome to the wide world, smart and beautiful girl, my beloved daughter. May it treat you gently.

9 months

1 week old

1 month

2 months

3 months

4 months

5 months

6 months

7 months

8 months

9 months