Nature, red in tooth and claw

January 21st, 2011

Nature put on quite a display for the boys today. In the morning, the Boychen and I went into the woods to feed the mallards. It has turned cold again and the pond is frozen over except for a small patch of open water where a creek empties into the pond; well over a dozen mallards were clustered there. They hung back at our approach, which is unusual for them. They are not shy ducks – many people walk in these woods and many people feed the ducks – and ¬†they know my boys’ voices well; the bolder among them start swimming for shore as soon as they hear the boys calling “Enteli! Enteli! Mir hai Brot!” (“Ducks! Ducks! We have bread!” They always call to the ducks in German because, as Small Boy tells me, being Swiss ducks they do not understand English.) But today they were hanging back and even when we started throwing bread into the water they remained still. Even Boychen noticed and asked me why they weren’t coming.

Then I heard it, a squawking, a yipping, a howling almost like a cat, more squawking. On the other side of the pond I saw three foxes flashing through the underbrush. More squawking. Boychen and I went to investigate but were hampered by the fact that I was pulling him on a pedal tractor, and the pedals were squeaking. We saw one fox again, but never did find the scene of whatever it was that happened. I’m assuming the foxes succeeding in killing a duck.

Then at lunch time I picked the Small Boy up from Kindergarten. The kids were all outside already, bundled up in their winter clothes and heading into the playground with the teaching apprentice who is spending this week in Small Boy’s classroom. They were hanging up a bird house or bird feeder. Suddenly two birds of prey – I think they were red kites but it happened fast and I’m not good at distinguishing between the kites and the buzzards that also live around here – fluttered and swooped and one of them nabbed a bird and flew away. They were about ten feet away from the kids. Small Boy went running after it, yelling “Hey, Vogel, los lo! Los lo!!” (Hey, bird, let it go! Let go!) but predator and prey were gone.

They boys know about nature. They know that animals eat other animals. They know that things die and they know that things get killed. I’m not entirely sure they needed such a close-up display though.

Speaking of hockey…

December 7th, 2010

… have I shown you the cutest. picture. ever?

Happy birthday, Boychen

November 19th, 2010

I’ve been sitting here for nearly an hour trying to figure out how to write about Boychen’s third birthday. I start and stop and delete and copy and paste and start again. I want it to be beautiful, the way he is, and I want it to be perfect, the way I think he is, and I want to capture that intangible shiny thing about him, the thing that makes me think of shiny new pennies or dew-drops sparkling in the morning sun or hoar-frost on the trees. My shiny boy.

It astounds me nearly every day how simply happy he is, the way a puppy jumping into a pond after a stick is happy. From my perspective, there was so much sadness in the first nine months – twelve? – of his life, my post-partum depression months, all those days of his that I feel like I missed. So many clouds for so long. And yet this shiny boy.

Who can make a game out of anything.

Who is always doing something.

Always smiling.

This beautiful boy who started his life near sadness just pushed all of that aside and turned out so bright and shiny. It astounds me, sometimes, even today, his happiness. Maybe he is not so special, maybe other people don’t see the shimmer that I see, maybe I only see it because I know, I know, how much of my sadness surrounded him and it seems so exceptional to me that none of it stuck.

How grateful I am for that, how deeply, deeply grateful. How relieved I am, nearly every day, that I did not break him. I missed a lot of his babyhood, but I didn’t break him and he is a happy child and he is three today and he is growing up so fast it makes me weep.

Not the Boychen though, no weeping for him. He can’t wait. For everything, for all of it, he can’t wait. It’s all such a joyous adventure, a great and wonderful thing. What’s not to smile about?

The Good of Small Things

October 28th, 2010

It’s been cold but clear the past few days and the boys and I have gone into the woods where the pond is suddenly populated by the twenty-odd ducks that winter there. There are mushrooms sprouting everywhere, and the Boychen still calls out “Hey! Look, Memli!” (although he can now pronounce “mushrooms” in English and “Schwemli” in Swiss, he still calls them Memli) as though he’d never seen one before.

The Boychen. How to describe this boy who still cries out “Memli!” a dozen times a day, each one something new to be exclaimed over and enjoyed? This boy who, if I turn my back, will be half-way to the road on his tricycle, speeding off towards the Quartier and the world beyond it. This boy with a soul like a shiny new penny, who is growing up too fast, who wants wants wants life.

My little boy, who will not tolerate being called a little boy, who is learning to skate like his big brother and who says, literally, exactly, “That’s what happens by skating, it doesn’t matter” when he falls down. This boy who is going to be as good on skates as his older brother sooner than I care to think about and who is going to leave all of us is his wake. His shiny, glittery wake. Riding down the street towards the Quartier, and the big world beyond it, and hardly remembering to wave good-bye.