Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Making sense

The barefoot big one is wearing patched jeans, for the first time. How we got this far without busting a pair, I don't know; it's certainly not for lack of hard play. He was shy about the patch, and unsure how to tell me so. He asked for another pair of jeans, and only reluctantly stepped into these when he realized it was the only pair clean. But then we went to the park, and he forgot all about it. Down by the creek we saw the splayed-out bloody remains of a squirrel that appeared to have been a meal for at least two animals. The stomach was torn out and the broken ribcage exposed, and the head was nearly gone, too. Fox kept walking up to it, announcing that it was gruesome or disgusting, then walking away again. 

I've seen videos of other primates doing this--coming and going and coming back again to that which disturbs. I still find myself sometimes making sense of the world so overtly, walking up in my mind to something that's "off," making a proclamation to myself or trying on an assessment, walking away again to think about something more pleasant such as chickens or chocolate or valentine hearts until I feel pulled over yet again to the worrisome place. 

On the way back from the park, Woody remembered the patch on his knee, complimented me on the stitching, wondered aloud whether we'd soon need to do the other knee, and asked if he could work the presser foot on the sewing machine when we did.  

This is a favorite page from Graeme Base's Animalia. It's a library book that we've kept in the car for three weeks now. Woody picks it up and reads it, stopping to spell out the words he doesn't yet know, then asking me what they mean, if they're new to him. He's learned a lot of new words this way, and the definitions of the new words lead to all kinds of interesting side-conversations. Fox makes requests from his carseat, and Woody turns to the page and reads from it, each of them weaving a story that moves past the phrases in the book and into the land of imagined things. 

For breakfast yesterday I made the boys shirred eggs (from my friend Penny's chickens--I'm so glad to have a friend again who sells eggs! as well as sage from our garden). Woody asked what shirred meant, and I said I didn't know, that we'd look it up after eating. He thought shirred might come from a different language, since it didn't seem to mean anything else in English. That, to me, seemed quite a lovely little wondering, though alas, it turns out the true origin of the word is a mystery. And shirred does have one other meaning in English: coincidentally, it is also a sewing term meaning pulled into pleats or ripples across parallel lines of thread. (Think of the puckered tops of sundresses.) 

These days have been rich with spoken words, some read and a couple written. Of all the gifts we give our children, I think the first and best is love, but the second-best is language.