Saturday, July 08, 2017


We're on the porch, as usual, eating breakfast, looking out at the farmette gardens before us. I turn to Ed -- I feel cheated, really really cheated.
He nods.
I mean, it's not that I didn't expect it, but still.
I hear no protest. He agrees.
It's just so sudden!
Again, a sympathetic nod.

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Of course, I'm talking about the mosquitoes. The day before I left for Europe, I was tending to our flowers, weeding, supporting, clearing, helping. It was perfectly fine to move around bushes and raspberry stalks, to walk over to the blueberries with Snowdrop.

Now, I could not walk the length of the path to even look at our flowers without being attacked.

I need protection. I dig out the bug suit. We both have netting outfits -- mine has a jacket, pants and a hood -- if you wear this stuff, the bugs will still buzz around you, but 99% of them wont make their way near your skin. The garden looks a little hazy through the fine mesh of my hood, but at least I get to explore it now. To the tune of a buzzing sound, but hey, you make do.

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Ed's not satisfied though. You're talking about a guy whose mind is always inventing, creating, designing improvements. In the week I was away, he developed an entirely new method of cutting metal. It may result in a serious patent. The man just never gives up on improving stuff.

And so he makes his way to the store and comes back with some Eucalyptus based stuff: at least it will keep them from swarming around you, he tells me.

Every little thing helps.

In the late morning, I go over to the young family's home to help them prepare their own yard, as they have several showings and an open house this weekend. Their accepted offer fell through, as often happens when the buyers turn out to be flakes and so now they are forced to reopen negotiations with other interested buyers.

Snowdrop still has that fresh excitement at having me show up...

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We set up shop in the small yard. We weed, she mows.

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I'm fascinated how the girl no longer seems like a two year old.

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She plays beautifully on her own, she recounts events with great detail, she sings songs, she observes and asks questions (are you talking about me? -- was a common one today, because, well, oftentimes we were) ...

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When we're done, her mom and I take her for a walk. And then she and I detour to the playground by the lesser lake while her mom and dad finish up with house stuff.

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The water appears actually quite clear. There is (for once) a life guard on duty. No one is swimming and I ask him about the water quality. He is enthusiastic: it's surprisingly good! Look how clean it looks!
Yes, I can see the fish around your feet.

Snowdrop stares at me, at him, at his feet. The fish had long disappeared, but I can see that she is concerned.

Want to come in the water? I don't have your swimsuit, but the water is wonderful and you can wade a little! I go in to demonstrate the lake's wonderfulness.

I don't want to -- she tells me, stepping back.

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This puzzles me. She splashed in the same water just a few weeks back.
Are you sure?
Yes. She remains on the beach to prove her point.

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Okay then, let's go get a snack at the coffee shop. But I don't want to drop this new found anxiety about the lake. Are you afraid of the fish?
Oh, they don't bite! Not the wee fish in this lake. They would have to be this big to bite! I stretch out my arms to demonstrate what may be a sharklike size.
(Later, my daughter reports that Snowdrop informed them gleefully -- gaga says fish don't bite!)

It strikes me we so take for granted that a child has a full picture of how the world works. A dog knocked her down on this beach once. How is she to know that a fish wont do the same in the water?

In the afternoon, the mosquitoes have settled into the shrubbery (they do love the raspberry patch and flower beds, sipping nectar, causing trouble) equipped with Ed's magic spray, we're able to walk around a bit without attracting a million followers.

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We even pick a few berries...

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Slowly, I get used to the new reality. We are near the wetlands after all. It is always worse here than it is in downtown Madison (though I see that Snowdrop has quite a number of bites on her and she did not get them from the farmette, but most likely from the  school playground, despite their use of bug spray). Too, we know that the numbers of mosquitoes will ebb and flow.

More importantly, we remind ourselves of how incredibly lucky we are! If it's too hot outside (yesterday), we turn on the air. if the bugs are vicious, we go inside, or, as right now, we sit on the porch and have the pleasure of being outdoors without being bothered by them. We live at a time when our lives are made easy in ways that even 100 years ago seemed remarkable.

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Evening. Snowdrop is here for a sleepover!

(Oh! I think this grandma ought to feed her a few more tortelli or fried bread! The Parma shorts -- size 2! -- are too big on her!)

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The girl has had an unusually chaotic day (so many showings, and uncooperative cats, and disrupted naps, that I fully expect for her to be one huge train wreck. She is not that at all. Instead, she rushes to her new doll (raffi), and attends to her. And attends to her some more.

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And some more.

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Only when it is way past her bedtime, does she let go of her doll to go draw silly sketches at my desk with ahah.

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At bedtime, perhaps predictably, she asks for long sleeved PJs. It's not a hot night, but still, it's summer! I have the sweetest short sleeved PJs for her.

Ed looks at me with disbelief. As in -- I do not get why you can be so obstinate... what the heck does it matter what she wears?

I think of myself as being a reasonable human being and yet here I am, asserting myself with a little one over summer pj's.

I go upstairs and change her top to a long sleeved shirt and she at once relaxes. Like magic!
What were you worried down? Ed asks...  That she'll wear a sweater for the rest of her life? And that would be a problem for what reason?

He goes back to his invention design, I pick up a book that I've been loving since my flight last week, and Snowdrop? Well, even though it is nearly two hours past her bedtime, I hear her chatting tp Raffi. Explaining to her this crazy mixed up world of ours I suppose...