Thursday, July 19, 2012

Whistling in the Driveway Swing

I'm visiting family this week and somehow it's hard to get time to tell you any stories.

Well, I have stories, but they all seem like crazy stories about how inept I am, how there are tug-of-war games between my family members, and how we're trying to get out to do some things while we're here, but it's hard to organize a group of thirteen people in hundred degree weather.

I'll catch you when I can. Right now, I need to find something to eat that isn't dripping in carbohydrates.

Nothing. I'd have to go to the store if I could find one that was even open. There isn't anything to do but wait.

The nice moments yesterday were when my mother, my son, and my husband were all trying to cup their hands in just the right way to whistle through their thumbs. We were outside in the evening air.

The neighbor boy had had to go home. He was three and had come to visit while his mom was ironing. His dad had recently died, a sad and sordid story. What would possess a woman to move a new man into her house just ten days after her husband has died? There's a story in it. I'll bet she's not as evil as they all say she is. I'll bet she's overwhelmed and crazy with grief. Or, she could have had this new boyfriend while her husband was dying of cancer. That would be pretty bad, wouldn't it? It is hard to paint this woman in a sympathetic light.

After this harried-looking mom came to find her son and left, his grandparents wandered past with their dog. The dog pulled them into the driveway and we all talked for a bit. They had moved here to care for their son and were moving away now that he had died and their harried daughter-in-law was wreaking so much havoc with her new live-in boyfriend. It was hard to hear the father counting the days since their son's death. One hundred twenty two. It was hard to see the mother's eyes fill with tears as she tried to regain her balance in front of us, total strangers.

Then we sat and chewed on that story a bit after they left. My husband, my son, and my mother all swung in the porch swing that my brother rigged up in the driveway. The swing from the swing set from when I was a kid was attached to one end of the support beam, worn chains and all. It was neat to see, but I didn't see how it could support anyone's weight. I don't know what my face looked like as my husband and son each took a turn in it. Stricken, I imagine.

Nick tried to cajole the cat out from under the porch and was hissed at for his trouble. Then he was nearly successful with the neighbors cat, but not quite. She was teasing him, just coming within a foot or two before running off. Eventually the neighbor came out and apologized for the cats rude behavior.

Then, back in the driveway swing, a turtle dove came to call on us. I like that sound, so I cupped my hands and tried to copy its call. I started about a fourth too high, but the notes were generally right and the bird answered my call. I wonder what I was saying.

About then, the sky turned yellow in the sun's last-ditch effort to shine through the humidity. Last night, everything had taken on a crazy orange hue. The yellow tonight was much easier and the three of them, husband, mother, and son took on a healthy glow.

That was the moment I'd like to have captured in a photograph, the one in which they were all sitting there in their healthy glow, cupping their hands and blowing for all they were worth into their thumb knuckles, sounding more like children imitating elephants than the quiet turtle dove. I wonder what they were telling her?

Thank you for listening, jb

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