H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald


But it could not go on forever.

Is there anything so dismal as winter rain? Today, Sunday, we have winter rain. Cold, bleak, heavy, occasionally mixed with snowflakes, but always rain.

(My seven-year-old was reading this over my shoulder and said, “It’s a toggle downfall.”

“What’s a toggle downfall?” I asked.

“Google it,” he answered. So I did. It’s a Minecraft term. It’s a way to control the weather. And now I want to /toggledownfall IRL to turn the rain off. But I have no such option.)

(Also, my seven-year-old is still reading over my shoulder and getting a lesson about living with a mom who is a writer.)

(He’s giggling.)

(And saying, “Stop!”)

(So I will.)

About that rain. It’s cold. I had great plans to force everyone on a mile-long hike through the snowy underbrush today, because I suspect we are all spending too much time alone with our thoughts and screens, but even I’m not cruel enough or a good enough mother to make them march in this weather. So we remain alone with our thoughts and screens.

The oldest went out, though. He appreciates a challenging weather event. He put on his billion-foot scarf and old army trench coat and old army boots and was lost in the downfall for the better part of an hour. Dear boy.


Well. Now it’s three days later. And everything is different. It’s sunny out, and we’re all taking turns being sick. That oldest boy is next to me on the couch, sniffling and hacking and binging on the A-Team.

Even the computer is different. My old one broke apart like flotsam and now I’ve got this sleek little thing that makes me feel sophisticated. It hasn’t learned yet, this wee, silver thing, that living with me is an adventure fraught with missed deadlines and cracker crumbs. And David Bowie is dead. And I want to /toggleBowiedeath.

But that’s impossible, so I’ll settle for a puppy snuggled against my side.


Another few hours have passed. There’s a lesson here, right? A metaphor for life? You look away and drive a few kids to karate, make a few half-hearted meals, glance at facebook, and suddenly the world jumps ahead, and it does that again and again until you’re sipping your last taste, squeezing your last hand, glimpsing your last beloved face.

Jeesh. /togglemood.




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