Friday, June 08, 2018

family photos

I am unabashedly in love with family photography. I know you know that. Posts are sprinkled with images of daily family moments that I thought deserved consideration.

You probably think that they are selective, that I cherrypick, looking only for the good moments. It's true, in that I would not include here stuff that would likely offend or diminish the person. But in fact, we are lucky to live in peaceful times here, in south central Wisconsin. The everyday is full of great beauty and calm. If I try for anything, it's to recognize that serenity and loveliness in the faces that appear here.

But every once in a while, I wonder if I put down the camera too quickly when a smiling face becomes a pouting one. Snowdrop smiles more than any child I know, but shouldn't I seek out the rare moments when she is frustrated with life's perturbations? My daughter will occasionally capture such a moment with her phone camera and forward it to me and I have to say, I love those pics as much as I love the more typical ones of her smiling eyes. And she does too! I hear that she sometimes asks to look at pictures of herself when she is upset.

In my younger years, my father was the designated family photographer. He wasn't especially great at it -- mainly he liked to snap my sister, mother and me on vacation or family outings, so often in front of monuments and known landmarks. Indeed, he'd never take a shot of anything that didn't have some of us posed, waiting with obedient smiles until he could make his camera adjustments.

Still, every once in a while, he captured something so evocative, that I marvel at its perfection. The photos are small and in the early years of our childhood -- all black and white, and yet, when I look, for example, at the photo of my sister and I doing something so absurd as peeing in the meadows near my grandparents' village home, I think -- wow! That's a great image. We ran around in underpants all summer long until we were well into our school years. The underwear was stretched (try washing kids clothes in a basin outside by hand, as my grandma did) and had to be pulled up high, or else it drooped. The meadows, not yet succumbing to the runoff from farmland and being neatly trimmed by the cows that occasionally pastured there, were terrific to run through -- all the way to the river banks, where froggies sang for you all summer long. All that comes through for me in that photo of us finishing our business by the river.

Today's photos are simple, even as the day was a tad too chaotic to call it "beautifully serene."  There was a very lovely breakfast on the porch. If you want to notice something new, throw your eyes on the bowl of strawberries. Ed picked them up at our local market yesterday: they're the first Wisconsin berries of the year! (I saved some for Snowdrop. She is a girl who loves summer fruit! And she offered her own judgment: yuk. I guess the first berries aren't necessarily the sweetest berries of the lot.)

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Here's something that perhaps only I can truly feel bouncy and excited about: the first day lily in the lily bed!

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And now comes the rush part. I drive out to inspect and pay for my mom's furniture. I grocery shop for the week (not really knowing if Snowdrop will be with us for a good part of it... her baby sibling is taking a longer time than expected to make an appearance). And I pick up community pool passes for Snowdrop and me. Just in case the weather quits its pouty cloudy phase and turns nice again.

And in the afternoon, it's Snowdrop time. Today is her last day of school. True, that's a bit of a misleading and confusing (especially to the little one) statement: she isn't really done with school at all. But, important changes take place: after today, the class breaks up. Some kids (including kids she really really likes) go away and never come back. Some kids are placed in different classes. She moves on to different teachers next fall. And summer is an altogether new game: she goes into a mixed age room with just some of her friends and a whole bunch of older kids and she is suddenly not in school but at "summer camp."

I pick her up as she is enjoying a special moment with a teacher she totally adores. (The teacher will be with her in the summer, but not next fall.)

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I know this is true of every child in that school, but hey, I can say it anyway -- Snowdrop has grown so much this year! She is a kid with remarkable self awareness, sensitivity and concern for others. She has a child's balance of confidence and insecurity. Here she is, leaving school with the swagger of a three year old!

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But she is in a month of change. I notice that she is quiet during our drive to the farmette. I ask her if anything is worrying her.
Yes, she admits.
The coming of the baby.

There is so much talk of this event and yet it doesn't happen. It will, any day. But not yesterday and not on this day.

Distraction seems like a good idea. At the farmhouse, she and I plunge into the building of her elaborate "pink town." I represent the orange contingency. The purples are well stacked, too, but sadly, the blues are left to the side. I make sure that their interest is not lost in the leadership shuffle that ensues.

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We then draw. Snowdrop has just recently mastered basic representational sketching and she loves, really loves mixing her stories in with her art.

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I, too, am delighted, especially when she decides she needs to sketch a wedding. Of Ed and gaga. I can't stifle my own giggle at her narrative!

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Pick up time. Parents here to take her home. Striped mommy, striped Snowdrop.

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And now it's evening. Ed asks -- there's a new Mexican place just up the road. Want to go?
I'm reluctant. But I read the news clip about it: a young family from Guadalajara, bringing home recipes first to a food cart, now to this small place... unassuming... fresh and honest...

Let's go! (It's Tapatios Cocina Mexicana in Fitchburg.)


My plate of soft shell tacos, with fish, with shrimp, with chicken is just right!

On the rare occasions that I do not cook dinner at home, it always surprises me how good it is to occasionally not cook dinner at home.

The night is so quiet. I listen to the nocturnal sounds just outside our bedroom window. And I wait for the phone to ring to let me know that our family is about to grow once more.