Monday, December 28, 2009

Open doors in December

December 28th and we returned from an overnighter in Seattle to a hot and stuffy house. The mist and fog of the morning had burned off completely and the pale December sun was streaming into the living room.

Too warm to keep things shut up, the front door was open the rest of the afternoon - a first for this day, this month, I'm sure. In fact, I've seen more clear dry days this December than I can ever remember for any previous winter month. We're enjoying the warmth and light but, honestly, so many days of the stuff is more than a little disconcerting for us moldy Pacific Northwesterners. Used to the pressure of making each rain-free hour count, days on end without the stuff leaves us eventually finding ourselves at loose ends.

Santa was good to our family this year, and we tried to be good to each other as well. Choosing nice over naughty for everyone's sake. 2009 has been a bit of a rollercoaster and I think most of us are ready to ring in 2010.

I hope your family's New Year dawns bright and beautiful...with maybe just a little bit of mist.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Letting go

Millions of words have been written on the bittersweet emotions that mothers lug along as they watch their sons grow into young men. It's impossible to be original on this topic, I fear, but perhaps it's worth repeating from the front row.

Maybe the single thing I'm most grateful for in my life - and there's so much - is the close relationship I've been fortunate to share with my son, from day one. He's my only child, yes, but he's also such a fine and interesting person - it's a pleasure, really, to be in his company.

And, I've been doubly-blessed to have a supportive spouse and a life that has supported my spending a chunk of Dylan's childhood right at his side. The costs for such privilege can sometimes be high - in ways that are difficult to foresee at the outset - but I would do it just the same again if asked.

The good news, the great news really, is that now Mark gets the chance to really, full-on be there at Dylan's side as well. Some time out from earning a living, he's there to pick Dylan up for swimming, home to grab the band-aid when the cut starts to bleed, around the dinner table to check on homework and struggle through the tough math.

Mark deserves it. Dylan deserves it. And, as Dylan stands at the precipice of adolescence, the timing feels almost cosmically orchestrated. The joy that emanates from the two of them as they build, or ski, or strum, or solve is palpable.

So, now it's time for Mom to step back and let go the reins a bit, place the "primary caregiver" badge on the bookshelf with the Curious George books and the Wiggle DVDs from Australia that never would work in our player anyway. Time to rediscover what I loved before I loved this child. Time to awaken deeply slumbering parts of my mind and soul.

A time of renewal for all of us, a time of sharing and space and engagement and disengagement. Humbling and cherished.

And very, very hard.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Why I love Vashon #502

It doesn't freeze here very often, but when it does islanders instinctively know to gravitate toward Fisher Pond. In deep shade all but the middle of the day this time of year, Fisher Pond is only a few feet deep and rewards our deepest winter yearnings with good solid ice as soon as the temperature stays below freezing for even a couple days.

Better yet, old time islander Gary Peterson and
his Minnesota-born wife raised their 3 kids on skates and somehow, over time, decided to hold onto every size as the kids went through 'em. Years passed and folks came to know what to do with their old skates - send them over Peterson's way. Today, this fine and generous couple of grandparents have boxes and boxes of skates they store in their attic for occasions such as this, when they load their pickup full of boxes of skates, head down to Fisher Pond, and give them out to any and all who'd like to take a turn on the ice.

This week the Petersons have been at Fisher Pond almost every morning and every afternoon after school, fitting folks to boots and making good conversation. Gary told me yesterday that Fisher Pond used to be a cow pasture - it was
an earthquake in the forties that shifted things around and raised the outlet for Shinglemill Creek just enough to create this 6-acre pond. And islanders have been showing up, hopeful and bundled up whenever the pond freezes, ever since.

Thanks to Mr. Fisher for donating his fine pond and forest to the folks of Vashon about a decade ago. And, thanks Mr. and Mrs Peterson - I think we had way more fun than the cows ever did.