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Mid-April

Spring is finally arriving.  Weeks of 59 degree teasers followed by 40 degree chills have finally developed into t-shirt weather.

Where yesterday the world was full of grey-greens and browns, flowers have appeared, and bare branches spot green dots of hope.

It’s raining, but even that feels like a promise of green to come.  I watch two women walk past me, one with a bright red coat, the other with a bright blue umbrella.  I add my green sweatshirt and yellow umbrella to the mix.

Walking across the park, I watch a toddler and her grandmother walk toward me.  The toddler is wearing a raincoat with multicolored polka dots, and is delighted by the rain.  I can hear her giggles and see the smiles she gives, not just to her grandmother, but to the sky, the rain, the world.  I smile at her as we pass, she gives me a wide grin and points up at the raindrops as if to say, “Look!  It’s raining!  What could be better!”

Later, I pass a woman wearing a poncho woven of rainbows, and we, two strangers, greet each other warmly.

Spring is finally arriving.  Colors and warmth have returned.  Despite the rain, all is light.

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Sundresses in April

On Saturday I awoke to a dusting of snow.
It’s spring, but not really.

It’s the time of year when I receive an annual package from
my aunt living in Hawaii.

She writes, “Almost time for sundresses!” and
encloses brightly colored scraps of fabric,

sleeveless shifts in tie-dyed pinks and paisley blues,
or, once, a garish floral print in pinks, blues, and orange.

They wait in the closet for now, a needed reminder that
July and August will surely come,

while I, still in my down coat and long underwear
despair of spring break arriving,
or even spring.

I laugh and shake my head each year as I try on the dresses, shivering
with bare arms and legs and smart wool socks.

But this year as I anticipate the package arriving,
I realize there will come a year when it doesn’t,

and an April will come and go without a new sundress,
without a reminder that summer is on its way,
without my aunt’s love warming the early spring.

It’s a relief to find the package in my mailbox,
perfectly timed for the cold snap,

good to have another year of laughing and shaking my head,
and hanging the dresses in the closet months before they will be worn.

I wonder how many more years we have of this tradition.
Will my aunt in her nineties send my seventy-year-old self sundresses?
What will I do when she stops?

I imagine myself in my seventies, seeking out sundresses in April,
memorializing my sunny aunt and the summer warmth she shared,

and then I pull myself back into lighter thoughts,
into images of the days ahead where I will wear this year’s sundresses,
into visions of the warmth and green that are on their way:
the true gift of receiving sundresses in April.

 

Bright morning

I’ve just settled into my granola and blueberries and pulled over the book club book I’m cramming for tomorrow when I hear the doorknob rattling.

I review in my mind what Randy may have forgotten to take with him.  Keys?  Wallet?  Badge?  That’s the mantra of things he needs for work, so probably one of those.

I pop up from the table to greet him as he walks through the door, and I fling my arms open wide for our usual joke that he came back for another kiss.

He heads for me instead of upstairs for his wallet or phone, or towards the bookshelf for his badge.  “You have dance class tonight, right?” he asks.

“Yep, I’ll be home a little after 8,” I respond.

“And I’m getting my snow tires removed, so I’m just going to get sushi while I wait for the car,” he reminds me.

I remember.  “What’d you forget?” I ask.

“Nothing.  I just came back for another kiss since we aren’t going to see each other this evening.”

The kiss bestowed, he heads back out to his running car.

I head back to my granola, a little caught off guard, but happy, too.

Robins and Writers

Morning

A robin sits at the top of a bare tree,
throat lifted to the sky,
offering a song to the world.

Evening

Robins flit in and out of the hedge as
dusk deepens into night.
Shadows perch momentarily,
calling out to each other,
adding their songs to the peepers’.

March

We began this month,
one by one offering our songs
from our bare trees,
not knowing who would walk past to hear
or stop to listen.

And now we flit between daily life and
writers notebooks and
computers,
calling out to each other,
strong in the knowledge that our songs
mingle with each others’ and
with the world.

slice-of-life_individual

Ice cream in March?

The tinny music is unmistakably an ice cream truck, even though March feels early for one to be out.

It’s a familiar tune, though not one that feels classic ice-cream-truck-ish.  What is it?  The itch on my brain says its familiar from childhood.  Brahm’s Lullabye?  That doesn’t feel quite right.  The tune my music box would play when I turned its crank?

All of a sudden I know, and I’m transported back to college.  My dad has sent me a mix tape for my 21st birthday and I’ve popped the tape into my boom box to listen.  Dad didn’t put the titles on the cassette cover, just a picture of a street sign with arrows pointing in both directions, so I’m not sure what will be on it.

Three songs in, this melody–the one I’m now hearing piped through the early ice cream truck–starts playing.  It takes me less time to recognize it on the tape than in the ice cream truck version, but there are still a few bars of “I know this…..” before I place it.

It’s “Music Box Dancer”, my favorite song from when I was 4.  That was the period of time when it played frequently on the radio, and my four-year-old self loved it.  The song conjured up visions for me of the beautiful, tutu-wearing ballet dancer who spun in a circle when I opened my recently acquired jewelry box.  When the song came on the radio, I would dance around in the back seat (all around, since this was in the days before seat belts).  For a while, I’d hear the song often, then it started playing less and less frequently, and eventually I realized that radio stations had stopped playing it altogether.

I haven’t heard the song since then.  And here it is, on this mix tape for my birthday.  I marvel at my dad remembering this song and finding a copy to include on the mix.

And now, many years since I’ve had a cassette player in my living room, the song appears again, conjuring up memories of double-arrow-ed mix tapes that say “I love you” and seat belt-less dancing.

It’s never too early for an ice cream truck.

A Revolution Waiting to Happen?

slice-of-life_individual

The girl appears in the door just before our line exits to go to lunch.   “Our guest teacher wants to know if you’re going outside for recess,” she informs me.

Having a sub in that class actually puts a wrinkle in my recess plans.  I was hoping to keep some kids in and send the rest out with the other class.  I don’t think I want to do that to a substitute.  So do I not hold kids accountable, or do I make the accountable kids suffer?

“I’m not sure yet,” I tell her truthfully.  “I’m going to think about it during lunch.”

My line leader looks earnestly at her.  “We’re going to go outside,” he tells her.

“No, actually, I’m not sure,” I repeat.  “We might go outside, but maybe not.  I haven’t decided.”

My line leader also gets more serious.  “We’re going outside,” he tells her again.

I’m partly amused, and partly incredulous.  “No, actually I’m in charge,” I say, partly to my line leader and partly to the girl waiting for an answer to give her teacher.  “I’m not sure if we’ll be going outside.”

“I wish I was in charge,” the line leader offers back.

Oh, Sweetheart, I know you do.  I surely know you do.

Long Day

slice-of-life_individual

Which story do I tell tonight?

A sunny morning: delighted students discovering other class blogs, clicking on posts that resonate with them, pulling their friends’ attention to read the great post they found, writing thoughtful, supportive comments. At recess I mentally compose a “Honey, I Love” style poem in honor of these fun, creative kids.

A stormy evening: unfocused students interrupting, walking away in the middle of directions, tuning out lessons, turning their backs on reading partners.  After school I carry home more tension and irritation than a fitness yoga class can diffuse.  Poor husband, instead of leaving me alone to read in peace, tries to be attentive and finds a volcano errupting.

Which story do I tell?