Saltwater Birds and Mountain Air

"She wasn't doing a thing that I could see, except standing there, leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together."  -J.D. Salinger

I was sitting at the dining room table the other day, alone in the quiet house and early afternoon light.  A memory came to me.  I thought about being a "driveway" kid; long slabs of sun-bleached concrete with wisps of palm tree shade, thick heat, citrus spritz, doing crazy eights on my sparkly bike with a banana seat.  Weekends and kids for days, up and down, down and up.  Evenings, running, cooling in the shade.  1970's coastal Florida houses did not have porches, not a one that I recall.  Scratchy, aluminum chairs set up in the driveway.  Parents, tan, highball in hand.

My children are porch children, and "courtyard" kids.  We do not have a driveway to speak of.  My watching chair is a step or perched on the side of a raised garden bed.  This air is less dense, bone-sucking dry.  I watch them run around in the grass and play rougher than I'd like them to.  Games of tag have begun, staring contests, and arm wrestling.  They fly by on scooters with light up wheels, looking like great herons standing in the salt flats, stick legs, wobbling.

One week from today, Theo will turn eight years old.  He is in what I think of as the thick of childhood, and Sullivan is not far behind.  My heart isn't on fast rewind these days like it was a year or so back, when I was still mourning the days of holding them in my arms more than the days of now when they walk by my side, hand-in-hand, closer to my heart, on their own feet.  I have enough years of mamahood tattooed on the hollows of my bones now to recognize that this time is purely for living in.  For inhaling and gathering up to make for good stock later.

In the middle, life is sweet and raw with truth.  It is the driveway and the courtyard.  It is the tides and mountains and the moon.  Right now, as Mary Oliver said, "I say to my heart: rave on."


Please meet Fergus and Flora.  They've been here three weeks today, and I'm falling in love.

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