Saturday, June 2, 2007


When my husband and I were first dating, aside from having really hot sex all the time, followed by vanilla icecream with hotfudge in bed, we had these moments when the outside world seemed to confirm that we were really right for each other. Like the time we were heading to a movie and this guy on the street came up and gave us a flower. He was kind of crazy, but he had us convinced that he was a seer, and he was sure we were madly in love and could cure the world with our magic. Or the time that we were out for a motorcycle ride one gorgeous Seattle summer day, riding around the islands, when we happened to stumble on a cliffside wedding. There was not a large wedding party, it was only the bride, the groom, the minister and one witness, who I believe was maybe their child. We had stopped in a parking lot to get off the bike and stretch, and there they were, just below us, hidden from the road, but high above the white boats bobbing in the sparkling blue water. We were both silent, but our hands managed to meet and we just sort of sat on a log, out of their sight, and witnessed it. We couldn't say anything to each other about it then, but later, when our relationship became more serious, we both acknowledge that it was a turning point for both of us. We both knew that this was the universe telling us something. I think back on it today, and shake my head in disbelief at two things: we were right, and we rode a motorcycle.

Today, a lifetime later, we had another completely serendipitous day, a day when the planets aligned and the Goddesses smiled on our efforts to just "be" together as a family, to hang out in the world with no real plans except to maybe all get along and not bitch at each other, and see something new in this little town we live in. It didn't start off to be very promising at all - Joe-Henry woke up and after a few sweet snuggly minutes, turned into a greedy little toy capitalist, begging to go to Finnegans and get "this really cool digger". I had promised Charley some writing time this morning, so after forty five minutes of "no", I finally got JH out the door to go to Home Depot to build a wooden bi-plane (for free!) and we managed to break the spell of the two toys in the world he does not own. We had a blast, building our little wooden plane and he was so proud of it. More proud of his orange apron, though, which he wore for the rest of the day and had to be told the cold hard truth tonight at bedtime. If you wear your orange Home Depot apron to bed, you will strangle on the strings and die. I know I'm a freak, but bed is a dangerous place, and I'm not one to shy away from saying what needs to be said to get my kid into bed safely.

After Home Depot, we headed to our favorite spot in Vancouver: Esther Short Park. Not only is it named after a tough as nails pioneer woman, it's just a beautiful park. There is a bandshell there and gorgeous spruce trees and it seems like there is always some kind of community "happening" there. There is also a killer Farmer's Market there every weekend, and there's a great little play structure in the park. And even when the weather is crappy, there is always the River Maiden Coffee place that serves Stumptown Coffee, which is quickly becoming my favorite coffee in the world. We grabbed some apples, some strawberry shortcake, admired the rose garden in full bloom and he came down the slide about 70 times. In his orange apron. Then we headed to the far side of the park to wade in the man-made creek, and there is nothing happier than a kid in the water on a beautiful day. He did take his apron off for this, because he didn't want to get it wet, because it's his good apron. He inherits this from my husband's side of the family. After he was thoroughly soaked, we walked the block to the car and rode home to see Daddio.

I had promised Charley that we could go for a bike ride today, and had to hold up my end of the bargain. I am so lazy when it comes to getting exercise, and I don't know why. I think it's because we live in the middle of a hill and I am so out of shape I can't make it up the hill without walking the bike and I feel like a pussy. But it always makes me feel great, and to be out riding bikes with my two boys on a spectacular day, well there is nothing better. So I got over myself, and slathered on the sunscreen and we peddaled back through town, then down to the river to ride along the truly gorgeous bike trail. It was like discovering this place anew: my brother, an avid cyclist had been telling me about this path all year, and finally we found it. We rode past beaches and parks and a beautiful new condo development where we envisioned Grandma and Grandpa moving. We stopped for a moment to get our bearings and a voice spoke to us from the shade: "Are you going to the Sturgeon Festival?" This friendly gentleman who drove a pedicab told us that if we rode another mile or so, we'd hit the Water Resources Education Center, where there was a Sturgeon Festival. Since I couldn't pass up something that had the words "sturgeon" and "festival" in the title, we hit the road. The ride was a mix of business parks and actual parks, and there were families and happy couples and gorgeous young bodies playing volleyball. And my boys on the tandem bike, smiling and laughing all the way. When we got to the Sturgeon Festival, there was a fellow with a cut open sturgeon on the table, talking about it being very tame and tranquil (well, sure, it is NOW, now that you've CUT IT IN HALF AND SHOWED US IT'S INNARDS)while children sort of, um, petted it , Joe-Henry looked as though he might show us all what he had for lunch, so we moved on around the corner, where there were booths to do artwork or get a hot dog, and inside, INSIDE there was the Reptile Man. Now, I don't know about you, but children's entertainers usually make me slightly queasy. But this guy, he was GOOD. So informed, so passionate about his reptiles and informing people about them, and he didn't talk down to the kids at all. He was also very, very funny. Or his reptiles were. But he was an excellent straightman.

Joe-Henry sat in the front with the other kids, something he wouldn't have done a year ago, raising his hand at every opportunity, and Charley and I sat with the grownups, across the aisle from one another. We oohed and ahhhed and laughed and then we caught each other's eye. We were witnessing again, all these years later, the magnitude of those fleeting, serendipitous moments.

Who knew the day would turn out this good? Who knew we'd trade in that motorcycle for a married life with a kid? Who knew this ride would be so much fun?


suttonhoo said...

so gorgeous. so good.

and the part about wearing the apron to bed made me laugh out loud. (just imagining J-H's expression of concern as you laid it all out for him...)

Donna said...

Ahhh. There just aren't many days like this out there. We had one on my older son's second birthday. The Mighty Hunter took the day off and we hit the park, Applebees (free birthday dessert, dontcha know!), and it was just a gorgeous day. And we had no idea just how much that day would mean to us over the next 6 months. The date of this splendid memory? September 10, 2001.

anniemcq said...

Wow. That's a great story Donna.

One of Joe-Henry's best pal was born on that date. His mom says it was really surreal. I'm glad you have that great memory.

Donna said...

Surreal was a good word for it. One minute Steve and Mr. Salt were finding the third clue, the next I am wondering if the world will ever be normal again. (Amazingly enough, it's a lot more normal than I thought it would be!)