Light frost on the grass, wet snow on the mountain passes. Just me and the ducks at the lake, when they paddle by they make a V that fans out and disappears. The morning sky’s a watercolor like the ones at the elementary schools tacked to the wall, they all look different though they all look alike, they all look like the sky. And my thoughts return to work, I should have been in Oslo today, I imagine the others with the time difference there but I’m not sad, I’ll make a wood fire tomorrow night, cook something, be with the family.
Charlotte’s had a relapse of the parallax view phenomenon, where she tilts her head to the side and closes one eye then focuses with the other on the edge of her nose. She does it without thinking, and often. And I’ll sometimes tease her but she gets sensitive about it so I’ve stopped; I asked her in the bedroom after school why she does it and she tried to explain (to focus on how her nose looks differently out of each eye), and said some kids at school are starting to ask her too and she doesn’t have a good answer, and can’t stop it, but wants to. So I offered to help but I’m not sure how.
We drove to Jubilee Farm in Fall City for the pumpkin patch, in the floodplains where Dawn said they used to go bicycling with her family when she was young. We rode on the open-air trailer bed, sat with strangers on bails of hay, got out and picked pumpkins, still connected to the vine, then back on the trailer to the main farm, where they had a couple food trucks and picnic tables and people out on blankets with their kids, it was so warm.
After we weighed our pumpkins and paid I started walking back to the car but Dawn called up to me, said Charlotte wasn’t ready to go, could we stay a little longer? I dropped the pumpkins at the car and when I came back they were in line for ice cream, and the trebuchet was scheduled to launch another pumpkin at 2, so Charlotte and I walked over and watched the farm-guy set up the catapult, a medieval-looking contraption with pulleys and a ladder: and when it was time to launch it we all counted down from 10 from a safe distance down the hill, and watched the pumpkin hurl through the air, followed by a bunch of kids running after the remains…and Charlotte berated me for taking too big a bite of her ice cream, and I picked a green tomato off a vine but it was bitter so I threw it at her and hit her in the butt, but she didn’t know what it was.
We stopped at the store so I could buy a chicken and they went into a nearby shop, returned with a Tinkerbell Charlotte got, then made a fairy house for, out of a box from Amazon.
Charlotte has this thing where she needs to use her hands, bounce her legs, and possibly that explains the gestures she makes with her lips or the head-tilting, the need to just use her body to manage what’s going on in her head, which seems nonstop. And I’ve awakened in the middle of the night every night for two weeks now with Led Zeppelin’s “Battle of Evermore” playing, and wonder if I have similar issues: if it’s a sign of brilliance or a disorder.
I brined the chicken then rubbed it, fit it on a can of beer like a tripod, and put it in the middle of the grill, smoked it, put the last of the plum tree in the fire pit, set up a lawn chair where the patio furniture was, now in the garage for the winter. And there were little bug-things in the late afternoon light like fairies, and a frog sounding like a crankset tightening a bike, or the metal nutcrackers we had as a kid, and used for cracking walnut shells.
When the night came down the birds sang for it, they sang more for the day. The sky went up in flames but slowly, and then it fell out with pin pricks poked through the scrim. I lay there in the morning dark remembering what I could of the day, of Charlotte and Dawn asking if we could stay longer, calculated the time in Oslo, our meeting would be ending there now: and I was glad for where I was, and got up to start the coffee.