16 June 2008

Mr. Blue Sky

Basil and strawberries are bursting forth in the kitchen windowbox. The end of spring and the tenor of my days has changed. Again.

Yesterday, we all stumbled about, hollow eyed and exhausted. Too much with the houseguests, too many parties, too much of what was supposed to be frivolity but only served to raise my ire.

Yesterday, I cooked simple food and made popcorn, and we watched movies and rested.

Today, however, we recognize that we are starting over. The reality of summer vacation has set in and the daughter sleeps until nearly nine. I am up at 6 am, of course, pleased that I'm not worrying about putting together lunches and chasing children out of the house, exhorting over forgotten clarinets.

Grocery shopping, of course. I haven't shopped thoroughly in weeks, making do with what I remember to buy and what I can cobble together from the pantry. Although none of us enjoy the grocery, somehow the daughter and son and I find laughter in the process this morning, as I send them off individually on errands to find bits from the list I've left at home. Of course.

The son has been badgering me to watch Cloverfield. So after a lunch of quesadillas and refried beans (I skip the quesadilla in favor of beans well sluiced in onions, lettuce and Pico Pica hot sauce. Others may eat Twinkies; this is my version of comfort food), I offer to let them watch the movie. We settle in on the couch, the daughter squealing intermittently, and the son yelling with a certain glee, "This is SCARY!"

I am slightly appalled that the date the monster eats Manhattan is my birthdate.

When the movie is over they retire to their separate activities. I lift weights and continue with laundry, and it's time to make dinner.

I realized at the grocery that it is nearly summer, so time for summer food: corn on the cob, grilled vegetables, chicken and nectarine salad. Tonight, bratwurst and corn, all grilled out doors. The spouse is elated, and tries to talk me into baked beans, too. I offer him salad instead, without telling him that I have orange Hostess cupcakes for dessert. Kid food. Summer food.

Once dinner's been consumed, I look out the kitchen window and guess at how much light is left. I opt for a walk; there was no time in the morning.

When I first started running again, years ago, I would drop the kids at school, and then take off from there. The mornings were always cool, often foggy, and when the kids weren't in school, I'd get up an hour earlier and go before the spouse left for work. Sometimes I couldn't do that, and my walk would be shunted to evening if I wasn't exhausted. I hated when that happened; it threw my cherished schedule into disarray.

Now, so much has changed, and I'm less constrained by others' schedules, so walking in the evening is as much a pleasure as going in the morning. Tonight I set off, iPod blaring cheerfully, the sun hanging in the west and shining directly in my eyes.

The pace this time of day is different; drivers seem more anxious, more people are out on postprandial promenades, and I am walking quickly, seized by a wild joy I haven't felt for some time. As I head toward the hills, the moon is rising to my right, pale disc, near full, in the still light sky.

Like the cars, birds are heading home, crows raucous, mockingbirds challenging, a single male mallard winging his way...where? He is headed away from the nearest water. I can only guess he must be flying toward Peter's Canyon and the reservoir.

As I traverse the neighborhoods and head back to the major streets, the light is failing, the moon chasing the sun from the sky. The music to which I'm listening is making me laugh; I've been granted early reprieve, and will be back on the road at the end of the month, just twice more before I wing my way...where? I leap from a high curb into the street, arms uplifted, the last of my residual fury trailing away through my fingertips into the air above my head. I land badly, of course, the hard rubber orthotic ramming into my arch, but as ever, it's a small price to pay for a moment of peace, for a moment to touch the sky.

Go listen to some good music: "Mr. Blue Sky" from the album Out of the Blue by Electric Light Orchestra.

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