The past twenty-four hours were richly decorated by the presence of my girls, their guys, and my landlord. (That would Ed, who remains, otherwise, without title. Or, who allows me to make up titles as I see fit. Same difference.)
Glowing moments. I’m at an age where daughters are so enjoyable that it hurts – like it does at the side of your ribs, when you’re laughing too hard.
I'm the parent still, but there are no more corrections to be made, instructions to be conveyed. I remember sitting at the Cuban café in Miami Beach. A rather young woman, with a baby straddling her hip was saying goodbye to her own mom (the baby’s grandmother). The grandmother smiled down at the kid, then instinctively pulled her daughter’s loose and revealing shirt up higher, so that it would reveal just a little less. Oh! These are such familiar impulses! Pull down the short skirt, pull up your shirt, up, down, up, down – look after yourself, please, look after yourself!
That's not my role now. Suggesting, prompting -- it's all much more subtle and nuanced when they're adults and you're even older.
I came back to Madison in the early Saturday afternoon. Ed picks me up at the airport and together we make our way to Monona Terrace. There is an Earth Day event and we find seats to listen to the featured speaker – Mark Bittman. In the older days, Ed and I were quite taken with Mark Bittman's video clips on the NYTimes website. He cooked up simple meals, always with a sort of nonchalant manner, as if failure was not possible because, after all, it's all in the eyes of the beholder. Lately, he’s moved away from food writing in favor of food advocacy and I suppose he agreed to speak in Madison because we're the kind of place where he'd be well received.
And he was.
He spoke more about the rather obvious food evils out there, but that’s okay – this is what he's focusing on, this is what draws out his passions these days.
Home now. Ah, home! Movies are made, books are written about this fact of going home: it feels good! familiar and grand, all at once. The Madison skyline is luminescent, the truck farmers are working in the fields around us (not our field -- that project may have to be stalled for a year)...
Where good kids make good things happen.
she's hearing good news about their future home
We take a walk. A country stroll that belongs to my favorites around here.
Out beyond, where deer scamper and birds croon, life feels good. Sweet and reassuring. A quiet world where you can hear each distinctive bird and wonder at its song..
In the evening we eat. It’s a jovial birthday meal and Ed only looks like he’s skeptical about the whole enterprise. Ah yes, there's that arm... and a sweet treat with a candle...
Happy birthday? Yes, very, very much so.
Sunday morning brunch at the farmhouse. Cookies from Miami Beach. With guava jam in their centers.
Frittatas with spring veggies, mango, sweets. And good, strong coffee.
Final moments: we visit the house my older daughter and her fiancée are soon likely to call home. One more, just one more photo where I have my two girls at my side, before the little one and her guy head home, to Chicago.
And then, the wild weekend with all those good elements winds down.
Wait. A small errand still. Ed and I drive up to the Flower Factory, for replacement flowers. Just a few. The place of Midwest's best perennials is quiet now. As if the cool weather scares people away from thinking about flowers.
And now, finally, we're back at the farmette. Ed and I walk the land. Taking stock of the orchard, thinking, scheming -- contemplating possible expansions, or no expansion at all.
There's something to be said for growing within what's allotted to you at this moment, rather than expanding your options. Keep it simple. Do well with what's there. Maybe.
I've always regarded my birthday as the first real initiation into spring. Daffodils and tulips -- the first good cut flowers. It's just so remarkable that the best growing months are still ahead of us. I'm humbled by that, really I am.