Poem for a slow winter Saturday

Your hands are smaller than mine

next to them I find

my impulse is to show them what to do.

“Like me”, I say

“Do it this way…”

reaching to stop and fix. To change you.

And I know the way;

it works, but may

not be the best. You might turn over

This well-known task

and, daring, ask

for me to change and follow YOU.

*Your thoughts like birds*

My dull preferred

view and method sinks beneath the flight,

the colored sight,

faster-than-light,

FIRE of your imagination.

We will break through the dry leaf pile

and scatter every fallen brown scrap,

if I can find

my way behind

your leading. (I’m filled with doubts).

It takes courage

to really flourish

the shallowness of what I think I know.

Grateful for your

slower speech, for

your smaller reach, I know if I slow down I can follow you.

I’ll try. – Katie

 

 

 

 

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Snow

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During our vacation there was snow. Beautiful, huge wet flakes, coming down thick as clouds, that tapered off into frosty bits and kept coming all day long. The NEXT day the kids wrapped up in all their inadequate Texas gear and adventured forth.

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My aunt, a woman of remarkable resourcefulness, produced five pairs of mittens. She called them “Magic Mittens”, because they were made of some material that started small and stretched to the proportions that the wearer needed. Each child worked their hands inside a pair, and she completed the protection with a ziploc bac and a rubber band to seal up at the wrist, thus keeping the whole hand dry. Ta-da!IMG_0070

It was, in a word, incredible. Being the desiccated husk of an adult that I am, I didn’t go out myself, but stayed inside and took pictures through the screen. I could see them from a distance, curiosity and enthusiasm completely shielding them from the cold and wet.

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When you start with a whole yardful of plain, pure snow canvas, of course you have to make footprints for a while. Stepping, dragging, finding sticks to make points and lines. Every insult you offer to the snow surface only makes you think of more ways to batter it. Helen followed Abbey around, using her footprints like stepping stones. When you’re only two years old, three inches of snow reaches halfway to your knees

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Rob built a snow fort, the one-man kind you can crouch behind, and Amos soon followed his example. Helen wandered between them, occasionally kicking or patting their walls, trying to figure them out.

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Amos kept reaching down to paw at the snow, whipping his hands back as if digging like a dog. I think he liked the frothy feeling.

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The girls piled and striped and made shapes, a flat snow house. There may have been snow tea and snow flowers. After the boys began lobbing snowballs they retreated to a corner of the yard close to the porch.

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A lovely day. – Katie

Oh, please don’t go! We’ll eat you up, we love you so!

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Look what a kind friend gave me for Christmas! Houseslippers in the shape of enormous, furry feet. James said they looked like Hobbit feet, but Amos and I thought they looked much more like the feet from the illustrations in the book “Where the Wild Things Are”. Amos and I both really love that book, so we posed our Wild Things gear together. In the spirit of things, we also roared our terrible roars and gnashed our terrible teeth, but you can’t see it in the photo.

The shoes are marvelously large, so it forces you to walk with a very wide stance, like walking in snow shoes. The cat and dog think I’m doing this on purpose to initiate a lets-jump-on-the-furry-weasel-that-has-my-human’s-foot game. It’s charming and annoying all at once. Better to have constant, frisky company than to have to walk alone, I guess! – Katie

Traveling

I took some pictures during our drive to Kansas City right after Christmas. Sadly, I think most of our family considers road tripping a necessary evil rather than a pleasure in and of itself, but it was a beautiful day to do it. We saw over a dozen hawks on our way! IMG_0054

 

When you travel everything turns into horizontal lines. The world is flat and straight and moves past you. We drove over a slick of ice coming out of North Texas, a scrim of snow in Oklahoma, and then it was clear by midday.

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The Driver. Amazing how focused you can be when steering seven people over ice. Driving a long road trip may not be his favorite thing, but it rather falls under the category of a “man’s job” in our house. He does it manfully. (I’m really grateful!)

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At this point the offspring were pacified by an in-flight movie. O TV, how we love thee! Nothing makes the miles go faster.

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The carefree passenger. I usually take a turn driving in the middle of the day, but it requires McDonald’s iced coffee and the Bob Dylan CD, which is so universally despised in our family (“Aaugghh! Mom! Not Bob! We hate Bob! Turn it off!”) that most of the offspring beg for me not to drive.

 

 

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My strategy must be working. – Katie

 

Winter poem

When it’s winter I like to read books and watch movies about winter. Winter poems are good, too. I read Russian mysteries and Swedish mysteries, poems about ice and snow. A couple years ago I fell in love with a now defunct blog called “Winterness” which was wholly devoted to the beauty of winter. It had picture after picture of snow: hung on cobwebs, laced on branches, piled in drifts.

Winter here is short and mild, so you have to enjoy it while you can. One of my favorite things about this season is the early nightfall. The feeling of hibernation – as if the ground and trees are asleep. It feels as if you have permission to sleep a little more yourself, the renewal of preparing for spring and growth and another endless, exhausting summer.

The kids fall asleep more easily at their dark-shrouded bedtime, it’s easier to lay down all your work and read or watch TV after they do so, and getting up while you still need a lamp eases you a little more gently into the day.

All the trees are bare and beautiful, revealing their complicated branches. They trace themselves against the sky, black on blue. I like the dark this time of year.

To Know the Dark

To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.  – Wendell Berry

Toddler craft

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Last Friday I took two toddlers to Chick-fi-let to play for a little while. The Forney Chick-fi-let has “toddler craft” on certain Friday mornings, which I didn’t know until we arrived. Which of course begs the question: what exactly is a “toddler craft”?

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In this case it was gluing marshmallows on to papers with a snowman outline on them. Pause a moment to consider the sensory possibilities; marshmallows…glue…paper…markers….

Oh, the stickiness. The squishing.

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I’m not big on making kids do crafts. I watched. They were beautifully creative without my help.

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One girl dipped and stuck, dipped and stuck, calmly ignoring the outline. This all ended when she discovered that the marshmallows tasted really good, and then she just sat there calmly eating. “Look, I eat dem!”, she told me.

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The other girl distrusted the strength of the glue – how would it sufficiently hold this puffy thing ON the paper? –  and tried again and again to mash the marshmallows flat onto the paper, rubbing the candy/glue paste off of her palms between attempts.

Two artists. – Katie

January Friday

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I say: “Helen, what are you doing? Are you making soup for squirrels?”

She looks up from my birdbath Christmas present, my favorite blue color smoothed over ceramic curves. Big smile. “Yes, I’m souping!”

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The brothers play football in the late afternoon January sunlight. 60 degrees is T-shirt weather if you run. The boys tumble and the dog rolls, zinging each other.

 

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I am reading. Taking slow bits of a favorite story, like spoonfuls of hot soup. The story and the late sunlight are the same kind of warm.

 

 

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The little ladies in a circle were salvaged from a trash pile at someone’s house here in our neighborhood. They are all holding each other up. – Katie

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