Sunday, December 07, 2008

First snow

Stop me if I wrote this already: Did I mention that all the hemlocks in our front yard are gone? When the guys were here digging a trench across our yard in October so they could repair the electric, I mentioned that I wanted to redo the yard. They got to talking, the excavator and the electrician, and they said we could give the oaks to a lumber company for the price of taking them down and carting them away. They are very straight, tall, gorgeous oaks. We declined but I mentioned I'd like to get rid of the half dozen hemlocks scattered around the yard.

That's when the electrician said he'd take down those down himself, to heat his home, and I was all over that. A couple of weeks later he zipped through and now our front yard looks like a construction zone, with this swath cut through the pachysandra, and the fresh stumps. That happened to be the week all the oaks dropped their leaves, so we aren't exactly sure the reason for the sudden light in our living room, but I'm hoping it's the missing hemlocks. I love the light; it pours into the room in the morning. Lovely!

All by way of saying that we woke up to the first snow this morning but the hemlocks that always looked so cool covered in the stuff are now gone. Oh well! Small price to pay. Dave recently got us an indoor-outdoor thermometer -- you put a little monitor outside -- and it also predicts the weather. It had little snow coming down on the graphic this morning, kinda funny.

We need to grind up the leftover branches, and dig around in the yard and maybe start thinking about what plants and paths and other stuff to put in there this spring. But meanwhile we pull down our shade at night now, because you can see in from the street, and enjoy the light. We aren't doing much in the yard right now because of the season and the ground being frozen and all, but I did get to pitch our four or five pumpkins into the woods. We had one big one, 25 pounds maybe, and a big long green squash thing with several little pumpkins nestled inside. They've been there since before Halloween and someone has been noshing on them. There's seeds and pumpkin guts all over the path to the house. So I pitched them into the woods. I think deer have been at the big one because it was eaten away at the top. But I could be wrong.

Going to and from Lily's Star Wars role-playing game this afternoon we passed through some of Hadley's gorgeous farm land, with the Holyoke Range to the south of us, and all we could see was this expanse of sky, with heavy puffy fierce gray clouds. Nothing like living in the country to make you feel small and inconsequential. Whenever we go over the Coolidge Bridge into Hadley I tell Lily to look at the mighty Connecticut River -- it's always striking, no matter the weather -- and we try to come up with vivid descriptions. Nothing ever quite captures it, although Lily comes close. Today, as Lily said, it looked gray-blue and calm, and with the fierce clouds it was quite a sight.

It's so not calm tonight. The snow has stopped but it's roaring outside -- it sounds like a train's been going through for the past couple of hours. It's the roar of the wind and when I opened up the window to get a real listen it felt like I was inside it. "Doro-thee! It's a twister!" It unnerved me so that when I ventured out this evening to meet some friends and a branch flew into the car, I turned around and went home. I've seen what the wind can do to 150-foot trees here. And it spooked Lily enough that I had to put on some quiet music to drown out the roar and let her sleep.

I'd say we aren't doing much of anything at all these days except go to work in the morning, and try to get to bed at a reasonable hour. I'm not sure if it's the holidays, or the lengthening darkness, or the cold, or what, but we are really going to ground lately. Which isn't to say we aren't busy: Every weekend now we have things to do. Small-town living is really, really different from city living, and one thing I've noticed is that it's a lot easier to get involved, in a way. I have decided not to sit on the board of that theater company, but I could. And that this is not the time for Lily to join the Y's swim team (it meets either monday-wednesday-friday or tuesday-thursday from 6:30 to 8) but she could (see the other blog entry).

Right now the focus of our family is to adjust to Dave and I both working and Lily adjust to fifth grade and boys and social stuff and increasingly demanding academics, not to mention hormones that send her up and down the emotion meter. And that's about all I can do, that and do my own work. We're managing to keep the house relatively clean. Dave went out today and did some food shopping while I took Lily to her Star Wars game, and he's been cooking up a storm. Lily had two birthday parties this week and we could have joined the Mayor's Hot Chocolate Run, a fundraiser for Safe Passage, a local battered women's shelter. But we had to make some choices and that one was the only option.

I've been trying lately to be more present with Lily, to really pay attention, to focus on what she's saying much more, and to be with her at the times that are hard for her, like getting ready for bed or getting ready in the morning. If this weekend is any example it's better when I do. She likes the company and the attention and she doesn't act out as much. I'll ask her to brush her hair and get ready for bed, for instance, and if I don't go up with her, I'll find her a half hour later reading a book. If I do, I can putz in her room, put away clothes, straighten things, keep her company, and keep her on track to be getting to bed on time. (Sleep is so crucial! She needs 10 hours at least, if at all possible, which means bedtime is 8:30 on school nights.)

Sleep is so crucial. For all of us.

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