I’m not sure why I want to keep talking about this, I only know that every few pages I’m texting excerpts to Aaron from the other room and there is no emoticon for FIST PUMPING YES MOTHERFUCKER. So I’m typing that a lot also. (Sorry, Grandma … and mom?)
I started reading this book yesterday and not really in earnest until after the kids were in bed and instead of retiring to the basement for mindless television we both crawled in bed with a book and spent the next few hours turning pages. I laughed, I cried, but mostly I laugh-cried. Somewhere around midnight I put it down and closed my eyes.
I’ve been having really vivid dreams lately but I didn’t wake up with details of last night’s complexities, instead I woke up slowly to the wafting smell of bacon coming from the kitchen. And like I was hoping would happen, I had those visions of coming home for the Holidays and waking up in your old bedroom while your parents are downstairs starting the coffee and making breakfast. (That’s what Thanksgiving and Christmas are for, you see.) I’m not gonna lie, it was like a movie and I just laid there savoring the moment, even if it was fleeting, of feeling like I was young again.
I was giddy and that was a welcome feeling for today.
One of the chapters of this book talks about the dark secret of lazy parenting: the ritual. Before this book I started reading Gretchen Rubin’s newest title, Better Than Before. A few chapters into it I had one of those moments where I had to get up and walk around and immediately sit down to write the rules I know about myself.
It was a short list, but on it I chronicled:
I drink coffee every day.
My day is bookmarked by carpool.
I always use chicken bones to make stock.
1st snow means hot chocolate, photos, and lots of anticipation.
I like habits, their boundaries feel wonderfully safe to me.
Plus a few other items – but I love how looking back on it I see this list differently in just a few short weeks. I love the ritual of life and traditions. I love knowing that every time I roast a chicken I know the next two days my house is going to smell like chicken soup with lemons and garlic and bay leaves. I love knowing that the morning of the first snow is always a celebration in this house.
In Dinner: a love story, Jenny says “In other words, when there are so many little things to think about, it’s comforting to know that I have a few of the big things running on autopilot.” (FIST PUMPING YES MOTHERFUCKER.)
After breakfast we piled the kids into the car for a Holiday Hike at Riley Trails. I’ve found that walking 30 minutes a day is somewhat of a secret trick to managing my bloodsugars so I do that without lapse. Every day, rain or shine, I walk at least half an hour. If I can manage to get my family to do this with me: I love it. But for the first thirty minutes of any hike or walk – I have a zone and I go there. One step, two. Breathe. Exhale, inhale, look up. Look around, look down. Inhale, listen. The wind in the trees sounds exactly like the lake lapping the shore – it’s the most beautiful thing to listen to in the dead of a forest.
Silence has a song, too.
And after my half hour is up my mental check list turns off and I can slow down a little. I don’t feel so much pressure to keep walking, just keep walking. I don’t feel like I’m saving myself anymore: now I just feel like I’m serving myself. We go off the path a bit more and explore.
And once in a while I can stop altogether to close my eyes with his, heads laid out in wonder while every other sense in our control is on high alert. Smelling the breeze, touching the wind, listening to the rustling of the leaves.
Winter is coming, we can smell it.
Winter means soups and stews, pasta and sauces. It means homemade breads and bottles of wine. Cheese boards, exotic fruits, champagne. Winter means time. We have time.
Having people around our table is something we’re trying to do more of. More families, more couples. More meals together. Not out (although we love a good night out) but in. More sharing what we already have with people in our lives that we already love.
Jenny, again, writes about hosting (Phase 3) with kids. She tells a story about another couple, equally as daring as she, who coordinated an evening of pasta making for her family and theirs.
“Making pasta from scratch was the kind of endeavor that I would’ve once called a “someday” project. As in, “Someday, when the kids are older and I have more time I’ll attempt to do that.” That was the best part about having friends like Todd and Anne. When you feel like you’re all in it together, someday suddenly seems a lot less intimidating. Someday suddenly feels … here.”
FIST PUMP YES MOTHERFUCKER.
You see where this is going? I can’t stop. Something happened, I let the dam go. So I stopped everything (after texting that passage to Aaron with my, now well known, sentiments absent of emoticons) and went to the kitchen, giddy all over again. I had a cantaloupe that needed eating so I sliced it up and while I was emptying it’s sunset-colored belly of seeds I just had this feeling … this is simple and extravagant. This is good.
Simple extravagance is important to me because it doesn’t beg for more. Because small voices with big hope are more powerful than large voices with an echo. Gentle conversation where inspiration breeds ambition, these voices matter to me. It allows you to show up, it doesn’t take your coat and replace it with a cloak of titles or achievements. It takes your coat and wraps it’s arms around you.
I’m on page 228 and this is what I know:
Room temperature cantaloupe is sweeter and pairs well with Chardonnay. Having something to say but not knowing how to say it is a reckless way to spin yourself in circles. One step, two. Breathe. Exhale, inhale, look up. Look around, look down. Inhale, listen. Add a pinch more salt, to almost everything. Keep canned tomatoes in your pantry and a good olive oil. Your freezer is a treasure trove of last minute ideas. And it’s ok to begin from nothing: to build something with depth, to wait just a little while longer for the flavor to develop.
Because silence has a song, too. And she’s singing wether you’re ready for the show or not.