Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Early Spring.

Oh, the snowstorm that couldn't. Or wouldn't. We're due now for heavyish rain, semichilly temps. It's Virginia that's due for breathless side-of-the-road local newsmageddon. All of us are supposed to see mid-fifties by the weekend, though, so none of any of this probably matters too, too much.

The wrens are nearly finished moving into the front porch mailbox. The Bradford pears at The Toad's school are budding out. I'm typing this one-handed with a 24-day-old baby sleeping in my other arm. Forsythia. Crocus. Mockingbirds chasing each other power line to gutter and back again.

I'm trying to head out back to light one more little fire before we turn too warm for that sort of thing. I'd sing a sad song about having somehow lost this last month or so of cold weather if I weren't just as eager for that first warm front porch morning, coffee in the wooden chair, smell of things blooming, light westerly breeze—

Heavy-headed committee members. That's what Sandra Alcosser, in her lovely poem "In Case of Rapture This Taxi Will Explode," calls tulips in a bud vase. Those daffodils out back bring that line to mind this morning. "With what sharp pleasure I would welcome company into my life," she says at the end, or something very near that.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Snowbound Lament.

It's chilly out there, is what it is. The Sunday Roast has come and gone, a quick filet that was only a little on fire for only a little while, a baked potato, a little steamed broccoli. If the kid is intent on killing you, go simple: Red meat, red wine. Various dinner-table bubble-bath bargains. Be finished with it all, get the big one to bed, get the wee one sleeping on the sofa next to his sleeping mom, pour a drink, put on the hi-fi, clean the kitchen, check the weather.

The fancies say rain on Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday. The geeks you've been following since January, the guys with fancy computers and angry semi-grammatical facebook pages, say a foot of snow in that same timeframe. The thing: they've been right three times in a row. Do you want to be socked in with a manic toddler, pissed about his brother's arrival on the planet? No. No no and no. But: can you still be you and not hope for cataclysm, for that selfsame foot of snow, for a power outage and the need to move the whole family to the woodstoved shed?

This is the lament of the new father, second verse—I no longer know for sure what to hope for. What I did do: take the problem child to the grocery, buy eggs and milk and bread. If this thing comes true, I'll already have it, won't have to fight the lines. Though, damn, I love the lines, always have. I love Christmas Eve at the bookstore, and I love the night before a storm at the grocery. I like needing a carton of milk but not needing to panic. I like being near all that odd, misplaced fear.

So bring on the snow. Or don't. It's March. We'll either bloom the rest of these daffodils or we'll pile snow into the bog garden that is the backyard. Or, hell, we'll do both. The fancies, regardless of forecast, want sixties for next week. If the geeks and the fancies both are right, we'll probably hatch mosquitoes in the snowdrifts—and if that's not enough apocalypse for you, then I've got a three-week-old baby and a fairly, though hopefully temporarily, damaged Toad you can borrow until you're satisfied.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Next Time.

The next time we do this—though, friends and fans of both weather and human husbandry, there will be no next time—we'll try not to do a deathly ill toddler in newborn week three. Finally got it figured out last night: croup with a bonus round of ear infection, which explained the comeback of the fever, and now The Toad is tanked on antibiotics and Advil and is at school for the first time in a week. A week. I love that kid, but I'm not sure I've ever been happier to not have him here. The house is a sitcom set of what a house would look like if the week we just experienced had actually happened. There are stray crumbs from meals I'm not sure we ever ate. Yogurts from another time. Spoons that may never come clean. Burp cloths. Swaddle blankets. Single shoes.

But there's crap coffee coming ready in the machine, and the sun is out, and the kid is mainly healed and uncontagious, and the baby's asleep upstairs and as yet immune, and I can come to you and say the hardwoods are starting to bud and bloom, which is my favorite sign of spring. Subtle. Quiet. Reddish hues in the stands of trees on 70 on the way to the puppet show. Early fruit trees are going at the elementary school out there, plums, or maybe some cherry variant, but it's the maples I like best, those undersized signs and signals out at the branch tips. Soon, the showy stuff: Japanese magnolias, dogwoods. But this moment—daffodils and the grass not greening but signalling that it might—this moment I love.

Possible snow this weekend. Possible snow midweek next week. But spring's coming. I found a few leaves in the mailbox. If the wrens are already thinking about their yearly rental, then it's time all of us got ready.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Wild Men.

Late at night. 11 p.m. A day that never saw 40 degrees, saw hard rain, saw standing water all through the backyard. The airport's saying less than an inch, but that can't be true. Two minutes ago both boys were asleep. Now The Wolf stirs, and The Toad coughs out of what we thought was some kind of recovery from croup, from a disaster of a steroid treatment we quit on after one dose.

Let me not recommend the truly sick toddler and the two-week-old baby. Let me not recommend steroids for this one boy under any circumstance. Lunacy. Criminal rampage. Last time we said never again. This time, save for pain of death, I think we mean it.

But we survive. A gutter broke on the writing shed, and we survive. The remedy for croup: steroids. The remedy for the immediately aborted steroid treatment: homemade chicken soup, then fresh cold humid air, then steam bath. Meet the new science, same as the old science. Or: suck it, new science. I'll take your pasteurized milk, but do please keep your performance enhancers clear of my kids' presumably semiswollen airways.

That 60-degree Sunday got me ready. We're a week and some away, as it turns out. Still: all this frigid water in the yard has to go somewhere. Maybe it'll turn the whole thing green.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Bait & Switch.

What do you say about a Sunday that ran well into the sixties, gave us shrubbery-transplant weather, kid(s)-in-the-yard weather, old-dog-in-the-sun weather? You say: gauzed-over Monday, heavy cold rain coming tomorrow, one more day of respite after that, and then temps not pushing past the 40s for four or five days running. In like a lion, people. This in a winter of widespread thundersnow. And The Toad has the croup. Thank god there's whiskey. Thank god for the advent of delivered food. Thank god for a baby that as yet sleeps a little better than he ought to. That baby's now coming up out of a nap and truncating the forecast, so we'll end here: Coffee. Tea. Brown liquors. Warm stews. Avail thyself of these, locals, and in the proper order, of course, in tomorrow's refrigerated ark-building weather—and in the days that follow, should we be so lucky.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Snow Day.

Curse you, county administrators, for this nearly snowless snow day, The Toad's preschool canceled, the child taking laps around the house, intent upon maximum collateral damage. A little ice never hurt anybody. Just slow down on the overpasses, bus drivers. Take it easy. It's a day for coffee, for thoughts of stew and dark beer, for a little bill paying, house-in-order sort of stuff. I just had all that in mind with a little less fiasco hurtling through these rooms. Guess I should have thought of that before this procreative experiment. Guess I should have sought out a bolder preschool. Looked for one run by folk wearing caribou pelt, metal hats. Wielders of spears. But no.

AMR sleeps upstairs. The Timber Wolf sleeps upstairs. Down here: barely-controlled mayhem, and what you'd have to be generous to call accumulating precip. And then the kid circles by and says he wants snuggles, and your grim heart warms a degree or two, and you pour another cup of coffee and start again.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Split Timber.

Not much else like splitting wood to clear the mind. Crisp out there, bright, warmth in the sun like there has been all week—but we get someone else's weather tomorrow, or our weather from December, or just what we're owed for late February, what we've earned: mid-thirties and rain. The forecast is improved from the ice fog some of the locals wanted to give us earlier in the week—or maybe a hard cold rain is no kind of improvement at all. Maybe an ice fog is the party favor, the parting gift, and all we're getting is the lousy t-shirt. Regardless: wood split for the incoming guests, clothes washed for the babies, coffee larded away in its tin, pot pie up from the deep freeze and thawing in the bottom of the fridge. We'll be ready.

If I was to report to you the News of the Toad, it'd be ugly, full of tantrum and kicking, and so I won't. I'll say The Timber Wolf is sleeping. I'll say The Toad's at school. There's sun pouring in the back storm door. There's coffee. I'm a little out of breath from the maul, the firewood. Good enough.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Timber Wolf.

Kind of a short-sleeves cold out there this morning on the Toadwalk—or maybe that's my wishful thinking. The forecast says we're laid in for another several days of true winter, and, hell, it's not even March, so let's maybe not get ahead of ourselves. Particularly here, at the southeastern HQ of bitching about How Things Once Were, how Winter Used to be Winter, etc. And yes, for those of you scoring at home, even if you're rebooting after give or take a six-month absence, those HQs you've accumulated over the years still attach themselves to the enterprise. So: I'm happy the daffodils are up. I also understand that I'm not allowed to be, that we always get some kind of event in March, or that, at least, We Used To.

Bright high sky. Crows on the power line on the downhill side. Finches at the feeders. The new Japanese maple's out there standing in its bucket, waiting for half an hour of free time that'll never, in these post-Timber Wolf days, come easily. The Toad and The Timber Wolf. TW has ear fur. The Toad napped yesterday, first time in a week, and came out of the other end of it seeming very like a human boy.

Jazz on the hi-fi when I came back in the door, but I was so in my head I'd forgotten I had it on, was sure Ben Webster's sax was the baby crying.