The other night we managed to see the comet NEOWISE. All five of us. In our driveway.
It is rare that we are all five of us gathered together for any reason. This summer is vastly different from other summers for all kinds of reasons, looking at you covid, though perhaps even without a pandemic we’d still be navigating foreign waters. Both adults are currently home most of the time and the youngest boy has a very limited camp schedule. But the older boys are working more than ever before. And our sleeping/waking schedules are always incongruous, have been for years. So to find ourselves a complete momentary unit is a special thing.
“Why can’t I see it when I look directly at it?” asked B.
I launched into an explanation of binocular vision and M chimed in with cones and rods and T laughed.
“A few years ago, one of us asked that same exact question and Dad was the one who said binocular vision and Mom insisted on the rods and cones thing because she had just edited a book about it,” he said. “And now you guys are, like, switched.”
And then we all laughed. And for a fleeting second, I knew exactly how to define a marriage.
There’s a picture book that I used to love to read to the boys called Don’t Mention Pirates. It’s about a pirate family who refuses to embrace their cultural identity until it becomes too obvious to ignore, and then, voila, they announce themselves as pirates and revel in the joy of sailing off into the sunset. I loved this book because it was a whole family on the journey—all of them refusing, questioning, realizing, embracing.
And this past spring and summer has felt like that for us, too. We’ve all dealt with the pandemic and various forms of fallout both separately and together, but it does seem that at least a few times, we’ve all found ourselves in the same space at the same time with the same basic understanding of our circumstances. We have all been metaphorical pirates together, if just for a minute.
And that’s the treasure.
Oh, right, cabbage. (It does seem like most of life is tangential—the work I do, the time I spent staring into space, the conversations I have with those around me, all of it operates on a plain of attention that is juxtaposed to a different plain, and while I do not tend toward the metaphysical, sometimes I wonder…) I am a mediocre gardener (I think I’ve addressed this before) and have never attempted to plant cabbage, but that’s mostly because no one here likes it unless I make coleslaw, and my interest in cooking and preparing food has waned to the point of needing a separate takeout line item in our budget. But! I have several tomato plants that are thriving, and because I started these from seed I take extra pride in them. Perhaps, if you were a reader of A Mere Countrywoman, you recall my days in the kitchen poking seeds into dirt while outside it snowed and the news was grim and the children were lost in their own heads and it was mostly television that saved us, Marvel movies and repeated viewings of The Office and New Girl. And now look at us—nearly thriving. Tomatoes and humans. As well as we possibly can.
Dearest b, your word for next post is cheese. Simply because I’m hungry for a grilled cheese sandwich right now….