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Growing Up

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

"A-moos-ing"

I crossed an item off my bucket list on Saturday - I saw a moose in the wild. From a distance of ten meters, the old guy looked cranky and potentially dangerous, with a full rack on his head, heavy body swinging from side to side and big hooves splayed around the pine tree he dined on. My girlfriends dived behind the two pine trees closest to us while I fumbled for my camera, apparently less intelligent and less afraid. I fumbled to capture the magical moment while they hissed, "Laura, get back! Please get behind the tree...".

I did shuffle backward in my snowshoes posthaste when Mr Moose sauntered a few steps closer. We monitored his movements and mood for a few minutes until someone noticed his wife and teenager moose on the frozen lake behind us. Forget danger level orange or red, we suburban ladies hit a new level of alarm, which we called "Code Moose."

"We're between the family members!" someone exclaimed in a harsh whisper.

"Get your hiking poles ready," exclaimed another.

At this juncture I felt the need to point out that the trail was quite popular - we had seen ten people in half an hour - and the moose must be fairly accustomed to homo sapiens.  My comments fell on deaf ears. The panic in two of my companions spurred them off-trail in a vector headed away from the moose, which only landed them in two and a half feet of powder, against which the snowshoes were no help.  I beckoned them back, issuing repeated assurances that the moose "wasn't looking."

In the end, we went down the same trail that had brought us to the old guy and his rack. I volunteered to go last, since I had a green coat and looked most like a tree, but also because I really didn't think the moose was worked up about our presence on his trail.   In the end, the quadruped gave us a few moments of tears and several hours' worth of laughing until we cried, at the image of four suburbanites huddled in fear, watching a munching moose and preparing to fight to the death with flimsy plastic hiking sticks.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

I was a bride married to amazement

The poet Mary Oliver has died. My heart hurts because I cannot stand to lose - we cannot stand to lose - anyone who brings such insight and joy to a suffering world. When events weigh so heavy on the individual and collective psyche, we need poets to see clearly the beauty and blessings in the everyday. They tell us what to look for, how much we have to appreciate.

In the NPR article on Oliver's death (Mary Oliver), a line from her poem "When Death Comes," ends the piece. She wrote "When it's over, I want to say all my life / I was a bride married to amazement."
Oliver's poetry reveals her perpetual leaning toward amazement, toward the miraculous.  I have been leaning in to current events, to troubling issues and worries about my children...I need to lean the other way, into seeing everything as miracle.

How many lives have been uplifted by this line, from "The Summer Day,"

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life?"
 
It's been on our refrigerator for years, but we forget to celebrate its meaning. Tonight we'll talk about a "wild and precious life" with the kids, and try to revive the hope and passion first evoked by her words.

Oliver's life may have ended but her words and vision will inspire us always. She was a bride married to amazement, an artist with heart and humility, and she will be missed.



Sunday, January 13, 2019

Penumonia??

"You're the proud owner of a case of walking pneumonia," said Dr B to William on Friday afternoon.

My jaw dropped into my puffy coat. When William burst through the door with a swirl of bitter cold air and snow, coughing as if his lungs were twerking in his chest, I knew something was off. Two of his good friends have had walking pneumonia in the past six months, so it's on our radar, but I didn't think his situation was so serious. He even swam and did dry land exercises twice last week, leading his lane on Thursday.

The doctor said the infection was localized to his lower left lung and that he would need to sit out of the pool until at least mid-week next week, a relatively short rest period. I chuckled as William typed an email to his coach explaining the situation (which sounded dire) and then finished with this, "but I'll be back on Wednesday."  We'll see.

We were so lucky to get right into the pediatrician, grateful to have health care for the visit and the antibiotics. On Saturday I took William to the acupuncturist for needles and cupping.  Our insurance doesn't cover that, but we can use our HSA money to pay. I wish everyone had the same opportunities, because it's hard to see your kids suffer, hard to admit that you can't fix it, such a relief to ask for help and get it.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Re-start

Just try to maintain a schedule, a clean house, or a focused mind over winter vacation with three teenagers in the house. It's like nailing jello to a tree.  The kids have one last day off school before we re-enter the normal, calendared routine, and though I've enjoyed having them home, unstressed and mentally stable, I am ready to get back to periods of quiet when I can accomplish something more than brushing my teeth.

True confessions - I did enjoy three days of unfettered quiet and relaxation when I visited my parents and sister in Northern California. Wise and witty Karen helped with cooking and organizing the days, including time spent with our youngest brother James, his lovely wife, Molly, and there three young boys (aged four and under). I swept the floor and tried to stay out of everyone's way.  Rob had the kids in Ohio with his parents, brother Ron and Ron's family, so their rest and relaxation mirrored mine from 2000 miles away. 

But this morning we were back to early wake-up's. Rob went to DIA for his flight to Burbank and I hit the pool to coach and swim at the 6am workout. My tinted goggles didn't work well with the pitch black sky, and though the water was perfect I struggled to find the turns.  (An apt metaphor.)  We have appointments and errands to run and backpacks to prepare for second semester. My juice fast juice bottles sit in the fridge, just waiting for me to take advantage of a fresh start .... but they will have to wait a few more days.  Coffee and the remnants of holiday sweets might be necessary to get back in the swing.