Thursday, June 6, 2013

Scars and Summer Heat

Mosquito bites and sweat. I could tell you that the weather is beautiful. It is according to most standards, but I hate when my clothes stick to me after a walk and there's salt where my upper lip has beaded. I like seeing clouds in the sky, something to hold onto.

At the park today, my friend's dog kept looking for shade. I know how he feels. He's a black dog. It gets hot having black hair to soak in all that heat. My friend and I should walk in the woods, in the dark undergrowth where it's cool and the moss and the black dogs don't get burned. Clouds are coming in tomorrow. I like when clouds roll along the ridges.

I bought a book for my kid today and another for my reading buddy at school. I hope they like them. I just wandered in and picked. It was nice to have a little time in the book store. Almost all the bookstores are gone. I admit that I read from the library. It's free. Am I part of the problem?

I used to buy five or six books at a time. The bookstore owners used to know my name. I think Mike is getting me an e-reader for Mother's Day, something I can use to download books from the library. I know. Mother's Day is long past and it's almost Father's Day. Mike is overwhelmed. The grass is long too. I should get out the mower and mow it. I don't like mowing the grass.

I'm going to have to mow the grass, aren't I?

There are three days left of school. I'll be able to sleep in, but eventually, I'll have to drive the kids away from the television. I told Mike tonight, that we might have to leave them plugged in for a couple of weeks so they can recharge. I'm hoping that the boys will let me help them organize their friends to go to the lake, to play tennis, to take a bike ride. School puts so much on hold and I have a hard time getting them back outside after it's over. The dog will help. He still needs a walk almost every day. I'll have to leave the boys alone if they won't unplug. Oh man. I do not want to sit around all summer listening to the video game and Cartoon Network soundtrack.

Nick has a plan to read in the mornings. I'll do that with him. Picture us reading our books. He also says he's going to lift weights and exercise. Can't we just take some vigorous walks? Won't that do the same thing? Oh, honey, I want to tell him, don't make it into work. Turn the whole thing into play. Picnics, hikes, bike rides. Get the skateboard out and go at it in town. There are places for you to go. You're twelve. When I was twelve, it was so different, so incredibly different. Summers were all about freedom.

I can't tell you how many yards I cut through, how many barbed wire fences I crossed, how many afternoons I laid in the grass just looking at clover up close, feeling it tickle my toes and my chin. I only wore shoes when some adult told me I had to. During those summers, my feet grew silently and suddenly some event would happen, a wedding or a funeral and I'd find I couldn't squeeze my heels into them any more, no matter how much the adult wheedled and groaned.

These days, boys play with their shirts on. They keep their shoes on too. They don't make trails or explore to the edges of the crabby neighbor's fence. They don't disappear after breakfast and reappear for lunch and then dinner. They don't often play tag after sunset.

Bug collecting.

Tree climbing.


Becoming archaeologists and digging up rocks.

Are we trying too hard to protect them? Are they inherently less curious? Is slowing down that boring?

I've been looking at rocks more, collecting rocks to hold down my stories when I sell them at the festival in two weeks, drawing patterns onto them. Sometimes I see where crystals have grown. I found one yesterday that had broken and healed in concentric circles. Isn't that some kind of miracle, that the stone sat long enough to heal the break? Will that work for me when I break?

I was thinking today, how there are stories in our bodies. Nick will see Mike in shorts and ask him, though he's heard the story a dozen times, about how he fell and rebar gashed his knee and how he ran all the way home with the blood dripping into his shoe. I have the scars on my belly that I tell Nick are what made him possible. Sometimes I finger scars that have smoothed out and faded away. I know where they are, like the dimple in my forehead where the girl pushed me off my bike and my glasses broke, leaving a chard embedded there. There's a place across my thumb where I looked away as I used a hand saw and Mike had to use three butterfly bandages to hold the parts together. I've looked at my own bone, at the white fleshy nerve that zinged a warning when I touched it. There's a dent in my left shin from the time my brother yelled at me to jump. It was too high, but eventually his power was too great and I jumped. Oh man that leg hurt for eight weeks. I know now that I broke it. There are stories in all the chips and dents and scars.

The story of a rock is a slower one. How long does it take to heal a stone? How far did it come down the river? What smoothed all it's sharp edges?

Has anything smoothed mine?

 Thank you for listening, jb

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