Tuesday, June 24, 2008


On Sunday morning, as we were getting into the car to go to church, I heard a loud racket from some robins in the back yard.  I looked up just in time to see several robins mobbing a crow.  The corvid swooped into a tree and the smaller birds swooped and pecked at it.  I couldn't stay to watch the whole scene unfold, and I don't know what the crow did to provoke such a reaction.

When we came back in the early afternoon, I noticed something moving on the ground near the back fence.  A quick look with the binoculars didn't reaveal anything, so I went out for a look.  I found a robin on the ground, feathers ruffled, eyes darting.  I squatted down to observe it.  I had interrupted its snack of a salmonberry, which lay partly pecked apart on the grass.It was so odd to see a robin just sitting there, almost as if on a nest, but I couldn't see anything in particular wrong with it.

After a few moments, Gabriel noticed what I was doing, and came out to investigate.  He squatted down next to me, and was able to stay quiet and keep his movements slow.  He was in wonder about the little bird in front of us.  He wanted to scoop it up and put it in a box and take care of it until it healed.  It was difficult for me to explain to him that we would not be able to do that for a wild bird, that we didn't know how to take care of it and couldn't fix whatever was wrong.  Secretly I wanted to take care of it, too.

Gabriel wanted to go in and get my binoculars and his little bird book.  He said, "I'm an expert bird-watcher, because I have a bird book!"  He left and then came quickly back, quietly sitting down beside me again.  Then Aaron noticed we were out there, and came to see what we were looking at.  Annika joined us as well.  She caught on to our quiet demeanor, and copied the way we were sitting, looking at the poor bird.  I guess four were too many observers, and the robin got a burst of energy and flew up to land on the fence.

Once the bird was on the fence, we could see its disability: one leg was hanging down, useless.  The bird sat on the fence for a few moments, then flew up to the gutter on the shop.  We kept watching it, but then I decided to go in the house.  A few minutes later, the robin flew down to land on a post by the wood pile.  Gabriel was still observing our little injured friend.  He sat down in the grass again, and kept watch after all the other family members left.  It amazed me how focused he was, and how quiet and alert.  He is so in tune with the natural world, and has a sensitivity that warms my heart. 

Friday, June 20, 2008

Visions of a Future Teenager

Today we spent the morning hanging out at Olympic Beach in Edmonds.  It was the first warm and sunny day in a few weeks.  The tide was heading out and there were a few folks down in the low tide zone.  I got to relax while the kids entertained themselves.

At one point, a cute little girl about Gabriel's age arrived with her grandpa.  Gabriel wanted to say hi and make a new friend to play with, but he was feeling very shy.  I tried to encourage him to just go up and say "Hi!" and that it would get easier after that.  He is normally so good at making friends.  But he just couldn't come up with the courage to say anything.  So he developed a plan: he'd do something interesting in the hopes that she would come up and say hi to him.

Gabriel then climbed up the steps and began jumping down to the sand right next to the girl.  He did this over and over, trying to entice her with his daring.  Oh, she was paying attention, but was a pro already at studiously ignoring him while watching from the corner of her eye.  I called him back to me and tried to explain that sometimes women appreciate it when the man takes the initiative.  He still didn't get it, but thought it would maybe work if he got Annika to say hi instead.  So he pushed his little sister in front of him over to the girl, and tried to get her to talk to the girl.  Finally, the girl must have gotten impatient, because she made the first move and the kids at last began playing together.

I just thought it was so funny watching this all unfold.  Here was a little boy who already had the idea that showing off was the way to a friendship with a girl.  He tried so hard to impress her, and she finally had to be the one to say hello.  It gave me a glimpse of what we have ahead of us in the preteen and teenage years.  Hopefully these events will not occur very often until much later in Gabriel's childhood!

Thursday, June 12, 2008


It has been raining and cold so much this spring.  This afternoon we had some sun and warmth, and the cottonwood trees let all their seeds go.  I had seen a few fuzzy white fluffs floating in the air in the past week or so, but today it looked like snow.  The seeds blew from north to south, filling the air.  I wonder how far they can travel?  We don't have very many cottonwood trees in our immediate neighborhood, so I always wonder where all these seeds came from.  It sure is fun to look out the window and see the currents of cottonwood blowing through the yard, onto their eventual destination.

Turning Six

Gabriel turned six on Monday.  For some reason this birthday makes me feel nostalgic.  Six seems so much older than five.  Five is still a little child, home with mom for much of the day.  Six is going to school full-time in the fall, no longer a preschooler, growing away.  People always say how fast these years go, and recently I have begun to understand this personally.  I used to feel that the days were dragging by, but now I wonder where the time has gone.  

For Gabriel's birthday, I was able to go to his class for snack time and brought some treats and juice boxes.  The class sang Happy Birthday while Ms. Christianson held the giant Birthday Book.  Our family went out to Red Lobster for dinner in the evening.  Gabriel thinks restaurants are pretty special.  It's funny to me how important it is to him to eat out.  Then we celebrated at home with ice cream and Brownie Bites from Trader Joe's.  He'll get cake this weekend for his party with all his friends.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Mysterious and Amazing

This evening we went to Gabriel's school for FAME, the Family Activity and Multicultural Event.  His school has such a diversity of students from many ethnic backgrounds.  Dad and Annika went home early, but I got to spend some extra time there with my son, watching the program and doing a craft project.  We walked home together afterwards, holding hands and talking about the day.  We commented on the beautiful fluffy clouds that were picking up the orange light from the sunset.  I thought how amazing it is that I still get to hold my little boy's hand.  He still wants to sit on my lap, and complains when we don't get enough time to cuddle.  He worms his way onto chairs when I am reading with Annika, and still expects me to sing to him at bedtime.  I still get to kiss him goodbye when I drop him off at school in the afternoon.  

I am so aware that I will not be able to do these things for too much longer.  Pretty soon I will be an embarrassment to him.  I thought of a series of pictures I had taken last week when we were in the yard.  His face has changed recently; it is getting longer and looks more serious and thoughtful.  He still has that intense look in his eyes that he has had since he was a baby.  Now he seems more wise than his age should allow.  He can be contemplative, funny, serious, far-away, piercing, moody.  He still cries with the least provocation.  But he is incredibly nurturing and gentle, thoughtful and kind.  

He keeps catching me looking at him, trying to memorize his features and storing them away for later.  I wonder how he will change as he matures, and try to figure out who he looks like.  I see mostly just him, mysterious and amazing. 

Thursday, June 5, 2008

First Harvest

Today we picked our first lettuce from our garden.  There is something so satisfying about going outside and picking ingredients for our dinner.  It sure makes me wish I had planted more of everything, though.  I hope with the cool spring we're having it will give me a bit more time to slip a few more seeds into the soil.  

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Yesterday it was raining pretty hard when it was time to walk Gabriel to school. We had enough time that I could let Annika walk, instead of putting her in the stroller and protecting her with the dreaded rain cover. We put on rubber boots, rain coats, and even Annika's rain pants. We hurried up the street to school, splashing in puddles all the way.

On the way home, we took our time, and I allowed Annika to jump up and down in each puddle we passed. As we came to the neighbor two houses from ours, I spied two small snails on the edge of the sidewalk. They were about an inch in diameter, and they were fully stretched out in the wetness. Both sets of antennae were visible on their heads. The shells were tan with brown, black and yellow spiral stripes. I have not seen any snails like this around here, at least not in our yard. Annika wanted to pick one up, but was reluctant to touch them, so I picked one up and showed it to her. I placed it on my palm and let it crawl a moment. It was not as slimy as I had feared; I barely felt its smooth movements. I could see the tiny dark spots at the end of the antennae. It's skin was almost transparent, revealing mysterious inner organs. Annika was entranced. She put her hand out for me to give it to her, but then withdrew it at the last moment so the poor gastropod fell to the ground. "Uh-oh! Sal dopped!" I turned the creature upright and we watched as it slowly unfurled its head and began hesitantly crawling forward again.

We were getting wet in the rain, squatting down on the sidewalk. Annika waved goodbye to the snails, and we continued our way home to warmth and nap time.