Friday, October 30, 2009

I'd like to get away from earth awhile And then come back to it and begin over.


by Robert Frost

When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy's been swinging them.
But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay
As ice-storms do. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust—
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.
But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm
I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows—
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father's trees
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It's when I'm weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig's having lashed across it open.
I'd like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:
I don't know where it's likely to go better.
I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

andrea ran a marathon on sunday! 26 miles in 6 hours and 4 minutes ! woop woop!

4 years ago today my sister was diagnosed with non hodgkins lymphoma, now she is running marathons!!! i am so proud.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

my days are like these

waking up at 5:30 does not get easier the more you do it. i get up and shower to wake up. i dress like a teacher, in black tights, a white polka dot turtleneck, and yellow knee length apron skirt. i realize too late that we are out of coffee filters. i try to do something with my hair, fail, put it in a pony tail. i try to pack a lunch, give up, and end up bringing peanut butter and a whole block of cheese. it is very dark outside, i can still see orion.

the kids are eating breakfast burritos and talking with their mouth's full as i read "tikki tikki tembo" and "if you give a mouse a cookie." i don't think they are paying attention. then they point to an illustration and laugh gleefully. or say something charming, like "that mouse will never get enough, will he?" this is my favorite part of the day.

off to reading class. the reading teacher is sick sick and the substitute has no idea what to do with the six year olds that are still learning their letter sounds. she needs help. i teach the kids the letter "b" and we think of words that begin with buh. cole is using the dry erase pen as a microphone. ken is humming under his breath, raising his hand and squeaking for my attention. he is not sitting crisscross apple sauce. i use my teacher voice.

i have become the discipline enforcer, reprimand-er i never thought i would be. i have excepted the necessity. luckily kids are forgiving, i still get hugs at lunch. they respect me a little more.

my kids are good during tutoring. alli brings everything back to snakes, he is very good at "s." stephanie is quiet during reading, but very sharp and confident one on one. maddie is awake and making progress with picture cards. we practice valerie's j's, she keeps writing them backward. bradey laughs a lot. cole asks miss spitler if she has any michael jackson stickers. she says no. he says, "that's ok, he was a rapist." miss spitler says, "that's inappropriate." later we laugh and marvel at how much he picks up from the world, the good the bad, the true the false, the pop songs on the radio.

i eat cheese and peanut butter for lunch. the teachers talk about "dancing with the stars" and "biggest loser." i don't have t.v. this is the only time i wish i did.

after school homework club= kids that don't want to be there. i don't blame them, it's not really a "club?" there is no secret password and no junk food. i try to make it ok. i have the third graders and i draw them pictures of dragons which they color and put on the front of their binder. we make spelling flashcards and learn how to add big numbers. chris talks the entire time: "i'm a fan of computers." i must remind him to focus on reading. they must write sentences for their spelling words, for "don't" andy writes: "johnny don't like homework club."

after homework club i am exhausted. we walk the kids out to the bus and finally i can let them be themselves. they can talk about whatever they want, or run ahead, or skip. i would like to hang out with my kids and not have to tell them what to do, and not have to tell them to be quiet and focus and sit criss cross applesauce. i would like to be their friend.

the bus ride home is long and crowded, the valley is filled with dust this windy day. i listen to neko case, driving home I see those flooded fields/ how can people not know what beauty this is?

another day another dollar. i get home at 5, find jordan. he's cleaned the house, gardened, made creme brulee and gouda prosciutto bread. who does this? who does this for me? it is my turn to act like a child. i fall onto the bed and nap.
Will I ever see you again? / Will there be no one above me to put my faith in? / I flooded my sleeves as I drove home again.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

must read: 'Changes in marine bird abundance in the Salish Sea: 1975 to 2007.' by the great John Bower of Fairhaven College.

i will shelter you

i cut the last of the fall roses and put them in a vase, then clip the hydrangeas. this is the best tine of the year for drying-- when the petals are a dusty victorian purple. the trees and plants are molting, like my canary, and going quiet. the yard is fluttering with leaves and juncos, white bottomed wings and small brown leaves decorate the sky. at dusk i watch the bats, not much different than a quick little bird, against the blue gray sky.

my mother is arranging flowers in autumnal shades: chrysanthemums in yellows and golds. Asiatic lilies in reds and deep oranges. twenty years ago, when she was 7 months pregnant with my brother, she was hunched over the cavities of pumpkins in the stadium flower's warehouse, carving out their insides, one by one, to be stuffed with oasis and then filled with the same colored chrysanthemums. to this day, the smell of pumpkin guts makes her sick to her stomach. every year of my youth we carved pumpkins outside on the picnic table, our hands cold and numb, while mother watched from the yellow gold of the warm kitchen. my father cleaned up the pumpkin guts quietly and threw them in to the compost before my mother could catch wind of their scent.

how strong is smell! when i smell chrysanthemum stems i smell my mother after work. i used to bury my head in her hair and waist. when i became a florist, when i stood on my feet for hours, like she does, and arranged peonies and queen anne's lace, tulips, carnations, and chrysanthemums, i cut their stems and felt close to her, though we had never been farther apart. this is chrysanthemum season and pumpkin season and also the season of dusty roses and bright orange roses, and bright yellow and orange circus roses-- my favorite roses, the ones my mother used to bring home for me on birthdays and graduation, their faces full and happy, petals spilling open and rimmed with orange, saying "we are alive and beautiful but not for long."