Last night, our neighbor did a backbend and attempted to kick over. She asked for help, Margot jumped in – silently, like a back walkover ninja – and was kicked right in the face. Knocked her two top front teeth loose. Which, to her, is awesome. Right in the middle of the blood and tears she smiled and said she couldn’t wait to lose those teeth.
I really want to write this book. I feel eager and inspired. And I feel like I want a hug. Pretty much just like the back walkover-face kick. How the hell do people write books?! I have a gnarly dentist appointment in the morning…perhaps tooth fanagling encourages perspective breakthroughs in such matters.
These days feel fragile and just so fast. School, (striving for!) earlier bedtimes, new routine and so much food to get in jars. We are all fragile, getting used to a pace that feels different from summer’s whimsy.
It feels good and right. And it feels hard and tiring.
We cleaned out our garage a few weeks ago. It took two and a half days, which felt like two and half months to the kids. They shuffled over the cracked concrete, with fleeting attention toward photos of my grandfather in the FBI, trying on my wedding dress and playing It’s The End Of The World And All We Have Is ____ with every piece of our outdoor gear.
At the end of day two, Margot drug an old coffee table into the driveway and announced she was going to sell some vegetables. “So. I need a sign and to collect some food. And then I need customers.”
I helped her gather tomatoes, onions and carrots, she and her sister took care of the rest. “Rainbow vegetables for sale!” Margot cheered as she proudly displayed her sign. And then they sat. We live on a quiet street and it was 6pm on a Sunday.
Cecil stopped his car when Ruby shouted buy vegetables! while running, hugging onions. The girls handed over armloads of food in exchange for a few dollars. Soon, they were sold out, their little fists gripping cash. Probably at least $100 Margot said.
Barely awake, Margot and Ruby were back at it the next morning. Now with leek, kale and increased confidence. In two days, they made $28.
I’ve been cooking and canning every night. I push through the urge to fall asleep with the kids and find the kitchen. It’s dark now, the nights cool. Open windows, loud music and me over the stove getting groovy with peaches, plums, tomatoes, tomatillos, beans, pears, peas, kale. Until 12:45 when I decide I must be in bed by 1. I dream immediately, the kitchen steam rolling into the night sky as jars of our winter’s food seal themselves to sleep.
Margot folds each earned dollar bill with devotion and places them in her denim purse which she then wedges between the wall and her bedside table. For sparkly beads she bursts whenever asked. We made a date of it. She constructed an anklet that will eventually be a bracelet that she plans to wear forever when she grows bigger. Always looking to squeeze every last bit out of everything, that girl.
Ruby treats her money like the pinecones she plays with, which is to say I find wadded up bills all over the place – in artfully arranged clusters, in the bottom of my water bottle and with the toothpaste. The amazing part? It always finds its way back to Ruby; she hasn’t lost a single dollar. It’s a magical, multiplicative game to her, rediscovering her dollar bills in the hiding places she’d forgotten about. She immediately handed over some of her stash to buy a little strawberry doll she named Strawberry.
Two weeks ago fleshy smoke billowed into the blue sky, perfectly framed by our living room window. We drove across the valley to watch five helicopters fetch and dump buckets of creek water. Like a giant, circular crib mobile in real life. The neon flames were undeterred by the sprays of water. We watched as the hillside turned black, just 1/4 mile from our home. It seemed impossible to stop the perfect conditions: wind + crispy grass + fire. But, thimbleful by thimbleful, the water slowed and then stopped the flames. We drove home and tumbled away from the high drama into our beds, thankful.
One night the girls styled their table with mardi gras beads, a pram and seashells. Andy and I watched from the kitchen where we made dinner as Phoebe came over with her ipod playing Call Me Maybe on repeat. Grayson rode his bike down to buy some shells. The kids climbed up on Tim’s car pushing their goods. He asked Ruby how many eggs he could get for $2. We saw her reply and heard him laugh “this is highway robbery!” as he handed over 2 bills for 2 eggs. She threw in some parsley and a wink too.
Isn’t it amazing what can happen with a little creativity and ambition? Putting out fires, preserving food, cleaning garages, gardening, writing books, losing teeth, selling vegetables. I feel like my daughters are saving the world
one moment of boredom-turned-awesome,
one moment of face kick-turned-opportunity
at a time.