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Playing category archive

A Faraway Fourth 2

Evening brings a neighborhood phone tree of yipping dogs, one fierce bark setting off another at intervals. The barks ring out in synchrony with the children’s yells that puncture the air. It’s 10pm, and the sun just set. The sky is a soft steely blue. The cicadas hum in the tall junipers, then stop, until just one is left in the wisteria arbor across the pool. A breeze as gentle as grass blades whispers at the curtains.

Independence Day is a funny holiday to be across the Atlantic. Like Thanksgiving, its ours and ours alone. No fireworks, no BBQs here in Spain. We had breakfast, lunch, and dinner like any other day. The heat pulsed like a July Fourth in Northern California, but the sweetish smell of sparkler smoke did not fill our lungs tonight. When Basil is older, maybe we will do something special for the Fourths we spend here.

Today, we swam instead. In and out of the pool before lunch, then again before dinner. Basil was uncertain about the water. His small body clung to me at first. We hadn’t been in a pool since last summer. But then he warmed up to it. His abuelo grinned at him, and swam to the end of the pool and back, blowing bubbles and making him giggle. In a moment of excitement, Basil lunged from my arms towards his abuelo, dipped his face in the water, and came up crying in surprise.

This is why we’re here. For afternoons like this. So Basil can feel his abuela’s love as he gets wrapped in a bright green towel by the pool. So Basil can feel the happiness he causes when he decides to come back in the pool again, lets his abuelo hold him.

The shadows deepen now, the street lights click on, and the last cicada falls silent. I can hear only silence now, a hum of soft crickets in the distance. The children have gone inside, for their late Spanish dinners, then bed. Just one child across the scrubby meadow calls out now, setting off the dogs again. I lean back and feel my dress get soaked from a wet pool towel hung to dry on the chair behind me. The air still hangs heavy with the day’s heat, so it will dry soon enough.

Getting Playful 3

Like many wonderful people out there who only manage to blog now and then, I am often asking myself why I don’t participate in the medium more often, considering how much I love it. Overthinking things is definitely part of it for me. Wanting every post to be more elaborated, have my best photos, be a piece of good writing. But isn’t the beauty of the blog partly that it can be a space for smaller things, for telling pieces of a story that little by little thread together over time? I am participating this month in Christina’s daily art project, and am loving how it has me getting more playful. Because really, what do we gain by overthinking things all the time? And what might we discover if we let ourselves be more playful?

So, I’m going to try it out on blogging too. I’ll see you back here soon!

Unexpected reflection 1

Ironing tends to pile up in a basket at the bottom of the closet in this house, favorite shirts crumpled in balls next to skirts not worn for months. Then one day I pull it all out and try to make a dent. Today, still weak after days of the flu, I set to it.  Pressed a striped, black shirt I haven’t worn since February. Sprayed steam and smoothed the wrinkles from a new flowered blouse I’m anxious to wear again. Hung each one in the closet as I finished, walking from the living room where Djokovic was beating Nadal in the Italian Open final, to the bedroom full of morning light. Another shirt. Two more pairs of pants. Sweating and tired of it already, I went to hang a red cotton shirt with round white buttons, hoping the pile remaining would look smaller.

As I slid open the mirror closet door, bright slants of light caught my eye through the sliding glass door. I lay the shirt on the bed, grabbed a camera, and started playing with the composition. But the pictures just looked like lines of light on painted, brown deck wood; nothing interesting after all.

But then I noticed the supple curves of Twin Peaks reflected in a small puddle of water along the railing above the slants of light. I moved closer, crouching down, trying to see sky, trees and hills. I ran for the other camera, kept looking for a different angle. Just like that, the morning felt like magic, as I caught this reflection of our familiar view in a stripe of last night’s rain.

Ginkgo and Maple Light 3

It rained hard last night, and this morning the sidewalks and buildings looked scrubbed clean, waiting, like the floors of a restaurant not yet open for the day. Outside our house the rain drove the Ginkgo leaves to the ground, fanning around the tree like a skirt whose elastic has snapped. Fall comes late here, the leaves only beginning to fall with the post-Thanksgiving cold mornings and dark rainstorms, so it’s easy to forget it happens at all when other parts of the country are already talking about snow.

I am writing more, making phone calls, filling out papers, jotting down lists, finding hope in routine and action, inspiration in fiction (I just finished Barbara Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees, which I can’t believe I’d never read given how much I loved The Poisonwood Bible and Prodigal Summer). It’s been a dark time, but the yellow wildness of these leaves on smooth city pavement, and satisfaction of moving at last, calms the worries.

As does my wonderful guy, with his humor and warmth and habit of not shaving until he can comb my hair with his chin.

And time with my dear friend, and her smiley little girl, playing in piles of yellow and red maple leaves, keeping the baby from eating (too much) mud, walking and talking about moving and our nomadic lives and how hard graduate school can be.

Did you know shaking a branch into a hail of yellow leaves could make a baby giggle endlessly? You should try it, there’s no feeling sad when your hair is full of leaves and an 8-month old is chuckling with glee in your arms.

Curls and Drops 1

On Tuesday, dinner with friends who live nearby for the first time since high school. Before dinner, I played outside with their daughter in their new backyard. We buried our bare feet in the sand and caused earthquakes, slowly shaking our toes to the surface. We poked and tickled beneath the sand, wiggling toes and watching the dog chase a squirrel. Then we hunted for baby lemons under the lemon tree, and washed them in a dripping faucet, again and again, filling the small terra cotta pot, feeling the water dribble away, and filling it again. When the sun went down and the night air came in, J came out and changed j’s wet flowered dress, and we went inside for dinner.