On the eve before each birthday, I like to sit down and write, right around midnight, usually for a good hour of pouring out and thinking ahead. This is a ritual I’ve been observing for many years, and I always write by hand rather than type. Because I rarely write by hand anymore, the journal in which I’ll write tonight is the same one I’ve used for several past years too. Its pages never seem to fill anymore. There was a time when I filled several paper journals each year. At one stage, I faithfully recorded my dreams upon waking. But I’m not sure what that taught me, other than how to remember my dreams. I’m not a dream-reader, though do find certain recurring themes curious, and occasionally dream vividly of people no longer in my life, who have died or are in some other way gone and inaccessible to me otherwise. There’s something quite beautiful about those dreams, as if in dreaming I can find forgiveness or mercy or grace that cannot be granted while awake.
I don’t know why this blog slanted in this particular direction.
My journal is leather-bound. We drove home today from our Christmas get-together with Kevin’s family, and beat the snow; I was thinking about writing tonight. I know exactly where the journal is waiting for me, on top of my dresser, with last year’s hopes and dreams waiting to be read and discovered, with last year’s anticipation and wondering waiting there too. Where have I travelled this year? What unexpected opportunities and challenges have come my way?
It feels, at present, that life comes down to time. That at its essence, time is what life is. We can’t call back lost time, and we can’t know how much time is left to us. We can only spend what comes to the best of our abilities, given the limitations and possibilities of our circumstances. I am glad and grateful for how I’ve gotten to spend my time so far, and how I’m spending it now. This coming year, I hope to explore, discover, dream, wonder, write, deepen relationships, and fear neither transitions nor challenges.
We arrived early. I used to work with horses and at a stable, and I had a feeling that if we arrived early they just might put us to work, and we just might be really really happy about that. So we did, and they did, and Apple-Apple got her first opportunity to groom a pony. He was a big pony, sleepy and old, and muddy. The smell of horse hair and dust, the sounds of the horses, the sawdusty sight of an indoor arena … this was supposed to be a birthday gift for Apple-Apple, but honestly, I’m not sure which of us took more delight from it.
Apple-Apple was a natural. No fear. Her pony liked to eat grass, and it took a lot of muscle and determination to wrestle his head up, but she did it, and repeatedly. She said afterward that she only wished she hadn’t gotten such a slow pony. In fact, my only concern was her lack of worry, and the way she danced around the horses, forgetting these were animals with hooves and teeth.
As for me, it was like walking back into a familiar landscape, and feeling so very at home. I’d forgotten how that connection to an animal (and for me, especially, to a horse) is unlike any other relationship. You find a different way to communicate. It’s elemental. I returned from the adventure utterly rejuvenated. Apple-Apple was elated, filled with confidence and excitement. She cannot wait to do this again.
Um. Me neither.
We ran out of frosting. Seriously. And forgot to run the spellchecker on the cake. Somehow, it was perfect anyway. Kevin and I both reflected after the event how much fun we have at our children’s birthday parties. There’s a bit of food prep and planning involved, but basically, the family party we throw for each child on his or her birthday is pretty simple. Eat, drink, play, cake and candles, and a couple of gifts. We have a slightly different mix of guests every time, but it’s generally aunts and uncles, a grandparent (my parents are divorced, so we’ve come around to the imperfect but liveable compromise of every-other-birthday attendance), and a few family friends. It’s always great to toss some extra kids into the mix. Last night, the younger party-goers disappeared to play together, and the grownups were able to linger over the meal.
The night before (still six), and this morning (seven!). The last six-year-old photo gave all of us the giggles, so even though it wasn’t the perfect one, I’m using it. The first seven-year-old photo shows her with hair unbrushed (she requested that I not touch it on her birthday), and she’s wearing a new necklace she’d just opened up, from Grandma Alice’s parcel.