Sunday, June 17, 2018

the close of a family weekend

A family get together is not easy to orchestrate, particularly when babies and young kids are in the mix and distances between households are not small. The things that can go wrong! Work demands, bad weather, upset tummies, tired little bodies -- any of these may topple the best laid plans.

Or, you may be lucky, like I was this weekend: everything just sort of falls into place. No one is sick, the weather stands in no one's way, babies gurgle and show off new skills (Primrose chose this farmhouse night to sleep right through it, Sparrow -- well, he really discovered the joy of moving seamlessly between eating to napping), parents and us older types grinned and jiggled and danced with the wee ones, and talked about old times, because that's what you do when a new generation emerges and your childhood or even parenthood becomes that much more remote.

It is our last day together. It is also Father's Day and so I'll start my family photo album with Primrose, early in the morning, chatting with her dad about this and that.

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I fix a simple brunch. Fruit of course. Pancakes, bacon, and a spinach-mushroom-potato-cheese frittata, because a  brunch at the farmhouse almost always has a frittata. With a dozen fresh eggs from the cheepers, you can't lose!

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We're all at the table! Well, two men are missing from this shot: a dad and his son. You can't sit down a newborn, even if you do have a miracle table that can accommodate many!

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A few last minutes with the Chicago clan. Yes, Snowdrop, you can hold and hug your cousin.

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Yes, Primrose, your eyes are bluer than my sweater!

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Yes, little Snowdrop, you can have another piece of strawberry rhubarb Basque cake.

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Yes, little babies, you've had a busy weekend! Rest now... just rest.

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A family photograph is also not easy to orchestrate! One baby may be hungry, another may be sleepy. A child can grow impatient, someone may be missing, someone else may be in a hurry. I hand the camera to Ed. He knows I want to at least give it a try. Take one or two and maybe we'll be lucky! -- I tell him.

Yeah, I think we fared well today. This weekend. This spring. Pretty damn well!

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And then the Chicago crew sets off. Good bye, have a safe trip, come back very very soon!

Hey, dad of remaining two, want to try for a photo?

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There! We are on a roll!

Afternoon: the farmhouse is quiet. The air outside is steamy hot. But the bugs are down (Ed is furiously studying mosquito data to try to understand why: is it the work of his traps? the construction?) and we have these tomatoes that are only doing well if planted away from the big tomato field. So we dig and transplant about a half dozen more. We now have several dozen tomato plants growing in various farmette spots. Maybe by the end of the season we will have figured out why some tomatoes thrive and others teeter totter toward maturity.

Hot work!

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But it does give me a chance to notice the little detail in the garden that I love so much: like the climbing pea plant with the beautiful delicate flowers...

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Still, it's not a day for prolonged outdoor work. And perhaps that's a good thing, because I have Sunday dinner to fix!

Because it is Father's Day, I prepare something that I'm sure will appeal to my daughter's husband: he loves the variously seasoned sardines sold in the south of France and I just happen to have carted over a few tins from my last trip there (which seems a million years ago). Time to fix a salad Nicoise, with mustard-lemon vinaigrette.

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(Snowdrop loves green beans and doesn't mind the sardines too much. But, she's always easy to please if you add to her plate an ear of corn.!)

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The day draws to a close. One more minute of play, one more song to sing. Snowdrop does a beautiful heartfelt rendition of "Whoa My Pony" -- a song I learned in school when I was little and one that I used on the diaper table with my girls, working their little feet to the rhythm of the bouncy tune. It's absolutely disarming to hear Snowdrop sing it now.

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Children are mirrors to your soul. You wonder on that night you read them a story when you were so tired if they even noticed or cared.

Oh yes, they noticed and cared. And  don't be surprised if you hear them singing that song, or see them reading that same very long story to their child several decades later.

Thoughts, no longer spinning from the excitement of the weekend ahead, but instead floating slowly, gently, as I recall the dances, the smiles, giggles, the quiet times, the chatty times, the beautiful times of this glorious family weekend.