The parallax view phenomenon

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.

Categories: musings, parenting

Tags: , , , , , , ,

24 replies

  1. A lot of beautiful language and images in this, and I particularly like “The sky went up in flames but slowly, and then it fell out with pin pricks poked through the scrim.” The whole piece was such a pleasure to read.

    Lately I’ve been thinking that it would be prudent to establish a relationship with some of the Amish farmers around here, in case the current regime in Washington succeeds in returning us to a pre-industrial state. So thinking about raising crops and using hand tools, but your essay makes me think a working knowledge of catapults could be useful, too. Having returned to my small hometown, worrying over vegetating like a pumpkin. The pumpkin isn’t going to know “trébuchet” because it never took French or medieval history in high school, and it feels like, if you don’t keep rollin’ along, events will come along anyway, load you into a catapult, and fling you, splat.


    • Hey Robert – Amish farmers? Are you in SE Pennsylvania? I hear you on that. Makes me think of the last portion of the David Mitchell book Bone Clocks, kind of going medieval, post-apocalypse. Grateful for your lovely comment here. And funny you liked that line because I thought it was a bit over-the-top but went for it anyway, so cool! Thank you for calling it out. I’m heading back out into the dusk now to grill a flatiron, crack a brewski. Best to you and yours, Bill

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m in NY, quite a few Amish in the rural parts of our state. The Amish outgrew their farmland in Pennsylvania many years ago, I think a population of 250,000 at this point, in Ohio, Indiana, NY, and settlements in a couple of dozen other states and Ontario I think. Anywhere there’s affordable farmland. There’s also a considerable Mennonite presence. Nice neighbors and good pies.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Surely you’ve heard the joke with the punchline “two many men-a-night.” Hope so, because I don’t recall the setup.


  2. This is a lovely post. I especially like the tone at the end with you reflecting and being okay with what is. As for the title and meaning behind it, my daughter has this odd little tic, and I just noticed it again after thinking she’d outgrown it. Sometimes worrying about our kids feels like a full time job but I’m not ready to quit.


    • I don’t think anyone stops worrying about their kids, right? And we have girls, so there’s that. There’s reason to worry about them ‘irregardless.’ I’m glad you liked it Kristen thanks, and the ending too…I was shooting from the hip there, ‘live’ blog footage as it were. And I was half-asleep when I posted it this morning so I really screwed up the spelling of Phenomenon. Got that stuck all over my shoes.
      Hope you’re well, enjoying fall. Good colors! Winds kicking up!
      Fake-sounding, motion-sensitive ghouls and so on!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I Googled trebuchet. I want one! Is that crazy?

    What do you mean where you could buy a chicken? I don’t me to sound thick but do you slaughter your own chickens? That’s very Dickens. Ha. See that?

    It’s a thin line between brilliance and disorder. Don’t ask me how I know so much about the subject. Just take my word for it.


  4. It’s definitely a sign of brilliance.

    I’ve never heard of such a thing as scrim, and I feel sorry for that little word being overlooked because it’s not as sexy as “trebuchet.”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. i like all of the reflection about movement of all kinds and don’t we all move through life in some way that keeps us somehow grounded and that others perhaps would find odd?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I used to peek at my nose sometimes, the way Charlotte does, when I was a kid. I think it was odd to me to think that our nose is always there, but we never see it except in our reflections or photos. She sounds like a curious kid, in the good sense of the word. I’ll bet she’s observant also, like you. Good traits I think.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s amazing you remember that, the nose-peeking! You’re right, she does sound curious and I really love that little muffin…though it’s the ones most like you that can drive you nuts sometimes too, there you have it.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I twirled a hank of hair, often into a tangle. But never in front of my Father. Years later, when it started falling out, I thought about that twisting. Did I make myself go bald?
    Now I notice things in my kid. Did I jiggle my feet constantly? Seem incapable of sitting still for more than 7.5 nanoseconds? Probably.

    This one flows beautifully Bill. Great imagery too.

    And I’m delighting in the recycling of the LotR soundtrack LPs.


    • I had to work through the LotR soundtrack LPs and now it’s out of my system, but thanks for indulging that. Funny, we made our youngest watch that late 70s animated Hobbit and she ABHORRED it. And I must say it was a bit, I don’t know…fey, or something. Sweet in a way, and a bit trippy, but perhaps a bit light in the loafers too.
      I twirled a hank of hair as you say on the side of my head too, and started giving myself patches, and promptly stopped. Bad habit: move on to the beard.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: