Friday, August 15, 2008

Feeling it

Last night Beth and I decided we needed a break from tiling the bathroom, a project that has consumed the better part of a month. We took the kids out for dinner, and then we took the van up to Morgan Lake to see the shooting stars.
We'd read that there was an asteroid shower happening about now. It was one of those clear, hot August nights. We made it to the top just in time to see the last sliver of red evening sky in the west. The moon was full and intensely bright which made for limited star gazing. On a whim we decided to park near a field up away from the lake. We put down some blankets and pillows and laid there in the tall grass looking up. We found the North Star and the Big Dipper. We didn't really see more than two or three shooting stars but we did track some planes and a couple of satellites across the sky.
It was ten o'clock and the kids had fallen asleep. I went back to the van, fetched a couple more blankets. Beth looked at the sleeping kids, the stars and the moon, we felt the cool air, and we just decided to spend the night there. Sammy curled up with us. I can't say that I slept all that well on the rocky ground and the moon shining into my face, but I remember waking up early in the morning to a dark sky, the moon finally fled, and the Milky Way ghosting the sky overhead. The silence was impenetrable save for the far off horn of a freight train passing through the valley far below.
When I awaken for good, I can make out through the willowy grass surrounding us, the east sky turning pink, the sun still off in the wings behind the blue mountains. Sammy follows me around. His yellow coat is perfect camoulflage in this grass. Across the road from where the van is parked he spots some cows grazing on the other side of a barbed wire fence. I realize that this is his first encounter with cows. He goes to investigate, stopping well short of the animals but not before one of them notices him and raises a wary head in his direction. I whistle Sammy back, and he comes ears flopping.
The rest of the family sleeps a little longer while I hang out in the van. A bit later, I manage to interest Colm in walking towards home and letting the girls catch up with us in the rig. Colm skips along in his yellow flip flops - it's his favorite gait, and the one that I find most expressive of who seems to be. Sammy ran after and around his boy, veering off once in awhile to investigate the brush along the road.
As we hit the summit, the sun comes up and hits us squarely in the eyes. From there we have a view of the Grande Ronde Valley, still slumbering for the most part. We begin our descent. I wonder how long before the van would putter up behind us. Colm takes my hand as we descend. That little gesture has become for me the one that reaches furthest inside my heart. I've written about it before regarding Tess. To feel his little hand slide unbidden into mine is akin to being awoken sweetly by the whisper of your real name. As we walk lazily down the gravel road, Colm said, "Daddy?"
"I feel like I know everything."
Neither of us breaks stride. In this quiet light everything seems possible, everything seems like it's just waiting to happen.
With Colm, you often get wordings like this which hint at far more than he perhaps intends, but which leave you feeling like a tuning fork that just been struck. A few minutes earlier he had coined the word "tomorning" and then immediately corrected himself with "this morning". Not because his word wasn't good English; rather because it wasn't what he meant. You also often get the last piece first, especially if he's been spinning something about in his head for awhile.
I wait and ponder the ramifications of feeling like you know everything.
Colm elaborates.
"Yeah. You know when you give those reading lessons?"
"Uh huh."
"It's like I only need one time, and I know it."
"Yeah. I know the feeling. Sometimes once is enough."
"Yeah, sometimes."
We continue down the steep grade together hand in hand. A minute or two later, we hear the van coming. We turn and watch it crest the hill, we hear Beth downshift and head down towards us, the engine winding up. Tess is waving out the passenger window, smiling broadly, relishing her chance to ride shotgun while Beth drives. Both Sammy and Colm seem excited by the strange perspective of the moment, seeing half the family inside the moving car, being on the outside looking in. I can imagine Colm wondering, "Is that I look like when I'm in there?" I shepherd boy and dog the side of the road.
As we load up, Beth says, "You guys went a long ways."


Blogger Melissa said...

I love you guys.

11:41 PM  

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