Fire and Ice. A Poem.

Field fire by the pond,
and I set a glass of water down.
“Grab your shoes and a bucket,
there is a fire in the field.”
“Right Dad.”
“Look out your window.”
“Holy crap.”
There was no fire pole to slide down,
but those who could help slid on shoes
and within minutes the creeping low lying flames
were surrounded and doused.

“Let’s make a memory.
Go get your snow gear on and
grab a shovel.”
“But Dad, shoveling the driveway
in a blizzard won’t be a good memory.”
“Did I say a good memory? I just said memory.
Whether it is good or bad will be decided afterward.
Fifteen minutes, that’s all I ask.”
The work crew spent an hour throwing
snow up into the wind like salt over a shoulder.
I heard laughing.

Why wait for fire or ice?
It is best to drink room temperature water.

Vacation, Power Out and Powered Up.

Vacation week. Family week. Family weak. I mean, I feel weak concerning my connection with my wife and children. This time of year it only gets worse. Christmas and the cultural material grasping intensity have a direct effect on me. The Big Brown and its elves get all the truck shelves filled like a sardine tin.

This year will be different because my eighteen year old daughter will be jumping for me. Jumper is the UPS term for driver helper, its version of Two Men and a Truck let’s say, only this time one man, one woman, and a truck. How about one dad, one daughter, and a truck? It shall be fun and bonding moments I am sure.

Anyway, this week I have taken over the chauffer duties for my wife Barbara. Tuesday I watched some children hit the gymnastics floor. Simply observing my children, really observing, has gained me further insight into what is relayed to me from Mom in the evenings after a long days work.

The beginning of this week a storm knocked out our power. Sunday night the singing by candle light began. Sunday night the screens entered into a coma and everyone gathered in the common area to play games. The big table wasn’t for eating, but for shouting across the eighteen inches at each other. Laughing at nothing (Don’t you think that kind of laughing is the most contagious?).

I got to work with my son Nathan too. The generator was working fine but the cord that led to the auxiliary breaker box didn’t jive with the outlet of the generator so he fetched the right plug from Menard’s. I watched him cut and strip the wires and begin to replace it with precision. He studies stuff before attacking a project. I left to figure out how to transfer the power to the auxiliary box and when I returned he needed a third hand to thread in the wires. We also spent some time putting up some insulation together. Then I taught him how to play rummy and he beat me hands down. Simple things really, but I felt connected to him in a way I hadn’t felt in a long time.

Yesterday I took the kids to Battle Creek all day for co-op classes. I saw two little girls of mine in their ballet lesson. Lots of smiles exchanged. Two other children had a fencing class and I heard the soundtrack to the movie The Mission in my mind and imagined Robert De Niro lunging with sword in hand. I saw seventeen year old Elisabeth poke an opponent in the chest. Her first time scoring and she smiled and let me know. Then off to the ranch for horsemanship to watch three daughters ride and trot and circle horses. The two little ones were so proud they rode alone with the reigns in hand.

I am thankful for the first-hand, real time look into Barbara’s busy life. Her every waking moment is an investment into family. A line forms right from the beginning of the day, usually with a child snuggling with her. If someone were to ask me what my wife does for a living my response would be she lives life, transfers life, and shows life to our community called family. We have a code we use to touch base. It’s called the EMP. I ask her how her Emotional, Mental, and Physical state is on occasion. Yesterday, after spending all day with a portion of my children I found my EMP was near EMPTY. More understanding for her depleted evening EMP will be there when I get back to the Christmas rush at the Big Brown.

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Emily and Zoe happy to be near horses.