You recently turned two and a half. That’s halfway to five, and 1/24 of the way to sixty. That lunar eclipse a few weeks ago was the third in less than a year, but we won’t have another until December 2010. Upon hearing that, it took me a moment to realize that your little sister or brother, who’s currently kicking my pelvic bone, will be your grand old age now during that next eclipse. And you’ll be five.
When I come home after working all day——while you’re eating olives, climbing up slides, learning to sing the alphabet song flawlessly, and painting your clothes and your hair at school——and I see your face, I just want to cry because I’m so happy to hug you. I know, I know, maybe it’s just the pregnancy hormones, the same ones giving me heartburn, but I think it might be more than that. I think it’s because I’ve finally fallen in love with you. When you read this, you might think, “It took Mom 2 1/2 years to fall in love with me?!” It’s not that you were a hard sell——well, not after the first four months——but I think I struggled against how stifled I felt as a stay-at-home parent. And, if I’d fallen madly in love with you in the first few months, I don’t think I would have trusted it; isn’t it supposed to take time to fall in love? If it makes you feel any better, I would have thrown myself in front of a bus to save you at any point.
This past weekend, I traveled to Point Reyes Station, California, in the organic agricultural wonderland of West Marin, for a Wallace Stegner conference. I was inspired by the writers who were there celebrating Stegner’s work——Barry Lopez, William Kittredge, Annick Smith, Robert Hass, Merrill Joan Gerber, Lynn and Page Stegner——and I was overcome by the area’s beauty and history, how I wanted to share that not only with my favorite traveling partner, your Dad, but also with you.
I hiked on Sunday morning to Chimney Rock (check out map link on that page for an overview of the whole Point Reyes peninsula), where the wildflowers have started to signal spring. I saw Douglas’s iris, coast wallflower, California buttercup, checkermallow, and footsteps-of-spring. I missed the chocolate lilies I was told were in bloom. White-crowned sparrows perched on coast lupine, singing to the sunny morning and flitting away when I passed. On the drive to the trailhead, a coyote and I exchanged glances as she trotted down a cow trail, scouring the slope for bunnies. Then I walked over to an elephant seal nursery beach, where I counted 110 basking seals——well, 90 or so sunbathing seals and about 20 pathetically crying month-old pups whose mothers had weaned them and then gone off for weeks to regain the body weight they’d lost while nursing. Four curious Hereford heifers peered over their pasture’s edge, past the cross-bedded sandstone cliffs, down to the beach, wondering what was making that sad sound.
I really enjoyed this selfish, indulgent, sunny morning (the whole weekend, really). But it was such a short hike, filled with so many animals and sounds, that I knew you would have loved it. While I’ve left you for nearly two weeks at a time in the past, this three days was a challenge. I called home every day. You’ve captured me.
On Tuesday, as we walked down the street outside the library, you walked up on a lawn, pointing to a newly-erected sign with letters and numbers carved into it. “Seven,” you said, pointing to the number seven. I think I just stared at you for a minute. You know numbers?! Then you pointed to the eight, telling me what it was. You proceeded to point to all of the sign’s S’s and O’s. In the bath later that night, with your foam alphabet letters, I realized that you can reliably recognize seven letters: S, O, C, Z, A, V, and U. Yes, this means that I think you’re brilliant——and I wouldn’t be surprised if your father is right, that you’ll be reading when you’re three. I guess that’s not all that impressive, given the recent story of the 17-month-old reading phenom, but don’t worry, we’ll still think it’s amazing whenever you decide to read.
Daddy recently started a list of your quotes on the fridge, since you’re really quite amusing.
Your father often brings you in to gently step on my head to wake me up in the morning. You were in high spirits a few days ago, singing imaginative, made-up songs, so I told you that you are silly. You replied, “It made the funny come out of my brain.”
Non sequitur Sylvanism: “Mom, you can pretend you’re a banana boat, if you want.”
This morning, observing my burgeoning belly: “You have a tummy melon.”