Saturday, November 1, 2008

I feel mediocre trying to do it all this season of pumpkins...

(which marks the gradual descent into holiday festivities that I’m struggling to keep simple enough to enjoy). Along with all the other good mothers of America, I stay up late putting costumes in bags and making lunches and baking...and the next day getting the kids dressed for school in the early morning dark since our first night of winter rain knocks out our power. My daughter shrieks, “It’s Halloween and the lights are out...” her joy infectious...and once finally behind the wheel, coursing past the dusky ambers and vibrant reds of the grapevines on Sullivan road, I begin to relax. Two children to deliver to school, one two-year-old to drop off at Grandpa’s, one stop at Long’s for paper napkins, and one final destination with a set of cloth wings, gold skirts and yellow leaves: my friend Karen’s house, where we will don our autumn harvest fairy outfits and head over to the kindergarten to surprise our sons. Karen (mother of four) calms me...when I walk into her house, she’s got a hot mug of tea, a sweet lilting woman singer crooning in the background, and something pumpkin baking for the activity past this one. Over her pot of eye glitter, we list our littany of must-dos and laugh. I’m ok again, in the company of another mother.

Which is why I loved this week’s article in The Bohemian featuring former Sonoma County Poet Laureate Terry Ehret, mother of three daughters: “Rather than fighting the situation,” (of trying to find uninterrupted writing time), “Ehret says she ‘embraced the aesthetic of interruption,’ as a way of mirroring her reality and honoring the fragmentation common to women’s lives” (Bart Schneider’s 10/22/08 Lit Life column). I embraced her philosophy all of Halloween, putting my thoughts about which poems to send Margie’s Strong Medicine Awards on hold until after the kindergarten celebration—when Grandpa and Grandma would take the three children home for the afternoon. If I was to meet my deadline, the power would have to be on at home again so I could print the poems; then there was the checkbook to retrieve from the van at Grandpa’s house. An hour later, wings sticking to my seat covers, I rushed to the post office where I watched the postmaster in Forestville put that magical red postmark on my envelopes. Mailing out submissions would have to count for writing day colliding with Halloween.

Not perfect, but good enough. Like earlier in the week when the kids were fighting and I sent my son to the yard to salvage the pie tin from its fate as second base. Shortly we had pumpkin shards simmering in the steamer, a container full of slime-stranded seeds to toast, and three happy kids with a handful of pie dough. Somewhere in the simultaneous popping of the pine rounds in the wood-burning stove and the vigorous undenting of the pie tin, I failed to notice we’d boiled off all our pumpkin steaming water. Another sacrificial pan, I sighed, at the sight of the electric range burner snake glowing through the bottom. Half the pulp went to the compost, and half to our pie. But even the husband had a second piece of our mediocre pie.

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