If a great day is defined as a series of moments worth noticing, then today has been exactly that.
I awoke with the dawn, stepped into the silent kitchen and put my hands into chopping, peeling, washing, cooking. Chicken soup bubbling on the stove. Yair’s chicken (finally) with turmeric, cumin, pepper and garlic, long-baked and finished off under the broiler flame until crisp.
In bare feet, flannel pajama pants and a tank top, I padded to the end of the driveway to retrieve the newspapers. The ground was wet from storms long since ended and the dew of the night, the air heavy with damp in the quiet morning.
Back inside, it was Shaya’s voice in my ears, calling out to be lifted from his crib and tenderly carried downstairs. Which I did, amid smiles and cuddles and incessant kisses along his soft skin.
Nestling into the living room couch, pillows flung on the floor to better gaze out at the trees, I heard Asher stir. He joined us on the couch, his curly hair tilting against my shoulder, Shaya’s head on my chest, and I held my boys in the quiet of the new day.
It was waffles for breakfast with maple syrup and melon – cantalope and santa claus. Coffee for me, then green tea. Eliana eventually joined us in that austere-sweet way of just-waking, her hair scattered in front of her face, her arms flung around my legs in that first hug of the new day.
And then the work began – slow and steady, successful, deliberate, while the children played at a park with the nanny, a park enveloped in a hug of tall trees, silent with only the voice of the slow wind.
We are still feeling our way into this new phase of life, which means the nanny leaves at noon on Thursdays and the children’s father arrives at 1. So in that open hour between self-imposed structure, we peeled back the screen door and stepped into the thick sunshine.
I tossed Asher a ball, and he hit it with a bat, running imaginary bases between grass, swingset, tricycle and hose, me trying to tag him out with a toss. Shaya sat on the green and red inch-worm, wanting to move, not quite figuring out how. Eliana let her just-painted nails dry; we’d stroked on the blue, purple, pink, and green polish in the bright sun, sitting on the warm patio, our shoes kicked off.
And then I noticed the garden box which, in the wake of the divorce, I have not had time to plant. Overgrown with weeds, some sharp and forbidding. I pulled out the garden gloves, tools, long heavy red shovel. Each of us climbed into the soil, each with gloves and tools, turning over the dirt, wresting free the weeds that clung to their hold as if they knew better than we how to remain planted.
The quiet of the sunshine, the steady hum of a mid-day in summer, the sweet breathing of my children and myself in a rhythmic flow. We pulled out every last weed, discovering, in the process, fat new carrots spun out of seeds left in the soil from last year’s garden.
When I tossed them on the pile of decimated weeds, Eliana called out. “But Mommy – let’s eat them! I’m sure they’ll be fresh and good.”
So we created a carrot pile and later, carted them with their long stems streaked in black dirt into the kitchen. The cold water cascaded over them; I pulled a knife through the stemmy stubs and handed the still-wet carrots to Eliana and Shaya, who stood on a shared kitchen chair.
“Hmmm, sweet,” Eliana said. Shaya palmed as many carrots as he could contain in his little hands, shoving bites into his mouth when there was room.
Yesterday, I spoke with a friend about how I could carry a little piece of my vacation last week into my everyday life. This is it. Moments in clear air, sun seeping into my bare skin, that inexplicable scent of carrots so ripe, so fresh, so real, that I cannot even find the words. And my children, taking bites, turning soil, offering to toss in with the work because it feels so damn good.