Wednesday, July 19, 2017


What matters more -- the appearance of perfection, or the real thing?

Yesterday, as I fought off mosquitoes to come as close as I could to a very well tended garden, I would have argued the latter: I know what's there, beneath the pretty facade. I want it all to be the best that it can be.

This morning -- a sticky, cloudy, excessively warm morning -- I knew I did not want to spend another two hours cleaning out the post-bloom lily debris from the flower beds. But after a day of near perfection out there, in front of me, I certainly wasn't going to settle for total neglect. And so I did an hour's worth of work (believe me, hard enough, with the insect buzz as irritating as the constant traffic noise must be to a New Yorker).

To a passerby, it looks no worse than it did yesterday.

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The stunning lilies are spruced up -- especially in places where anyone (me!) is likely to see them...

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The entire porch-side bed is (nearly) spotless!

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Yes, it all looks grand.

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What's beneath the surface -- well, every garden surely has its underbelly that's there only for the gardener to take note of and attend to only when she feels inclined to do so.

Breakfast is, therefore, a whole hour earlier than it was yesterday and my hands are far less purple.

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The afternoon belongs, as always, to Snowdrop. I'd like to think that I influence those hours we spend together, but today, I considered the very real possibility that this girl has the day all figured out. I am a mere conduit so that she might sail ahead with her established goals.

With one important exception: I provide some of the vocabulary.

Here's our afternoon:

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Straight off the bat, she asks (politely) to go to the coffee shop. Of course: she needs food...

... And to catch up with the local press.

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As I lift Snowdrop out of the high chair (not that she hasn't tried jumping down from it herself...), I hear her use the words which I mindlessly throw out when I hoist her -- upsie daisy poopsie baby! I have to say, it sounds a lot cuter when she say it.

Then she tells me: the pool is open now!
You want to go to the pool?
Yeppers peppers! -- oh! another one of those unfortunate phrases I throw into our conversation!

It's a hot day and as we wait for the pool to officially open (four more minutes, I tell her, one two three four!), I watch the school buses pull in (sweater is off for the sun screen application)...

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It'll be a crowded day today. But not right away. We grab a handful of minutes of quiet play...

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... before the chaos sets in.

Later, at the farmhouse, she goes straight to her play stove and starts working the pots. She shouts out to me -- dinner is not ready yet!

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And then -- it will be ready in five minutes! (with a classic little kid hand out to make her point that she means what she says: five)...

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She is a sponge, alright. And I'm the propeller, the boat that takes her to her next port of call.

And tonight, there is indeed another port of call: it's Madison's Concert on the Square night and for once, there is no real threat of stormy weather.

Snowdrop, her mommy and I set out with our picnic foods, chairs and various necessities. It's quite a hike with all our gear, but we are not deterred!

And it is a joyous picnic on the square! Snowdrop eats with the enthusiasm of a child who knows a good thing when she sees it!

We're ready to listen, play, dance!

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And then an announcement is made that the concert (yet to begin), may be cut short because of the potential for storms moving in this direction.

Say what? I am a storm coward. I checked the radar. Nothing was on board for tonight! Ed is out biking who knows where! I don't get it.

Snowdrop hears the word "thunder storm" and she bursts out in tears. This is all so strange! She has never ever shown any fear of storms before! Is it the storm drill they had in school? What's going on?

I tell my daughter that I'm ready to pack up and head home. She calls her husband, he drives over and we head back to their place.

And I feel a little like I always do in these situations: guilty for perhaps overreacting. Potential for storms: what does that even mean? No one else packed up to leave.

I linger a while at my daughter's home and then come back to the farmette and the sirens go off and we are suddenly under a tornado warning. Ed is out biking, the sky is black.

Where did all this come from? Why wasn't it on anyone's radar screen?

I spend a very anxious set of hours waiting for Ed, who does come home and I am so immensely grateful. We're safe. That's all that matters.