spring sprocket soup

Margot is super into monochromatic fashion right now. Today, it is blue. Yesterday, it was mint. Ruby often wishes to follow suit and twists with her larger desire to wear striped tights. “Margot, how ’bout it’s stripedy day?” she asks, holding two fistfuls of tights. “Or we could be rainbow girls?!”

Margot halfway acknowledges and eventually dismisses her sister’s ideas as she searches for her black undies that will perfectly finish her black uniform. On this Day of Black, Ruby does abandon her tights into a heap of colorful noodles and surprisingly chooses black. I call them my little Sprockets which leads to me doing my best Sprocket interpretation and eventual googling of old SNL skits.

The weirdness of the whole thing is hysterical and we just can’t stop laughing and dancing with short, snappy, sullen-faced motion. Leftover balloons from last night’s birthday party are naturally added to the mix. The temps are in the 40s and the deck snow has been replaced with soft, gray wood. Outdoor dancing happens.

Margot watches her silhouette shake in the door reflection and Ruby watches Margot. I sing the Sprocket song, pausing every few beats to say strike a pose. They freeze, except their bodies shake with giggles. Margot inevitably steps in chicken poop. I shrug it happens and she keeps dancing. Also somewhat inevitable, Margot mistakenly releases her balloon. She shrieks. It hovers inches from her body. The gentle wind keeps it low for more than a second; she has ample time to grab the ribbon as it hulas in front of her eyeballs. She stares at the shiny pink heart, mouth open in agony as the balloon gives up on capture and bobs away.

Ruby studies her sister for a half-moment before declaring, “Watch Margot! I’ll let mine go too! And then we’ll be the same!” Ruby eagerly tosses her white star up, giving her balloon a whiplashed start to joining the heart. Margot laughs, tears blurring her vision. Ruby laughs once – a loud surprised laugh – before she bursts into sobs.

My balloooooooooooooooon. My balloooooooooooooooon. My balloooooooooooooooon. My balloooooooooooooooon. My balloooooooooooooooon. moans into the periwinkle sky.

Ruby chokes a request for my phone, saying she wants to take a photo of the balloons that they will “never ever see again in real life.” She is gripping the hard and unfair concept of something leaving you without your permission. Those balloons will forever exist in her imaginary life, seared into her memory just like this:

The balloons shrink into black dots which relieves Margot and exasperates Ruby.

“That makes me kind of sad,” Margot observes plainly.

Ruby is frantic. “I don’t even know where to look! I can’t even tell which balloon is mine! I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHERE TO LOOK! HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW WHICH BALLOON TO WATCH AS IT FLOATS AWAAAAAAAAY?!”

The Sprocket Dance Party is over. We retreat inside to make soup while talking about the impermanence of awesome things in our lives. Balloons are like seasons, ice cream cones and breastfeeding.

Leek Pesto Rice Soup
serves 6

1 onion, chopped
olive oil
3 leeks, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups stock or water (we love this mushroom boullion)
1 cup basmati rice
1 tablespoon pesto (I’ve used our arugula pesto and store-bought pesto)

Heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil in pot, add onion and cook over high heat until soft and fragrant. Add leeks and cook for one minute, stirring. Add stock and rice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until rice is cooked (about 15-20 minutes). Purée with immersion blender or in batches with a regular ol’ blender. Stir in pesto and serve.

17 Responses to spring sprocket soup

  1. MinnesotaGal says:

    Oh the intense bipolar nature of childhood! I loved this essay!

  2. Ellie says:

    I’m with Ruby on this one. Things flying away forever make me very sad. You captured a beautiful moment with this story.

  3. angelika says:

    I told a new mama friend once that balloons were like babyhood/childhood…eventually your babies float away too.

  4. Jenn R. says:

    I liked you before, but now I reaaallly like you. Teaching your kids to Sprocket is all kinds of awesome.

  5. Vicki A. says:

    In your interactions with your daughter, you’re a very wise woman. And your photographs are magnificent. Thank you!

  6. Stacey says:

    Balloons are like seasons, ice cream cones and breastfeeding.

    You struck a heart chord with this one. Beautiful. As always.

  7. Oh, yes. The ups and downs. Seems like it happens with every moment of childhood. It’s so awesome until it isn’t. We deal, they learn. Love the rhythm of this essay–beautiful capture. (Sadly, though, those balloons are far from impermanent. Can’t tell you how many I’ve plucked out of the wilderness when I was a backcountry ranger. Oh, how jaded we become. Maybe you’ll find them again this summer…wouldn’t *that* be crazy? Actually, that sounds like exactly the kind of thing that would happen to you!) Sweet leek recipe, thanks! I have 2014 leeks already up and growing. Cheers.

  8. trbholt says:

    They are going to fast….I have got to get there soon! Miss you all so much….Mom/Gram xoxo

  9. Well, I am just crying (I may be emotionally unstable.). This really got me. (I’m the little sister one)

  10. DeRae says:

    Awwww. This is heart melting.

  11. Monique Pearce says:

    Nici,
    Your story telling is so magical!! I can totally see this wonderful moment with your girls written as a popular children’s book…with your husband as the incredible talented illustrator!! Thanks for sharing it on your blog

  12. Monique says:

    Nici,
    You are such a magical story teller!! I can totally see this wonderful moment with your girls written in a popular children’s book and illustrated by your talented husband!! Oh do it!!! Thanks for sharing it on your blog!!
    Monique

  13. Lashley says:

    I work with kiddos on the autism spectrum and for one little guy “Sometimes balloons fly away” was a comforting mantra when unexpected changes popped up. I have to remind myself sometimes too.

  14. Jean Albus says:

    I gotta say, Ruby’s pose in #4 of the balloon series is quite lovely! Do you think she’ll be a professional dancer? I love she wanted to photo the disappearing balloons. I relate to that.

  15. amanda says:

    Your girls are simply adorable! And as always, love the post!

  16. Abby D says:

    Such a moment! And you captured it so perfectly!! I read it aloud to my husband. Well…not the recipe bit.

  17. Jaim says:

    My oldest lost her first ballon when she was 4 at her great uncle’s 60th birthday and she was terribly upset. We had just lost my grandma, her great grandma, who was a dear friend of hers. I calmed her down by telling her the ballon was going up to Great Granny so she could enjoy it for a while. She stopped crying and smiled. She still talks about that day and I will remember it always.