Tag Archiv: boy one

The season of letting go

Engraving from a French ice skating manual, 1813. Compliments of Public Domain Review.

Engraving from a French ice skating manual, 1813.                                                   Compliments of Public Domain Review

This is the season of letting go.  The thought comes a few weeks ago. I walk around with it uncertain. Letting go is not just about loss. It can feel good to lay down heavy things.That is what I tell myself. I try many times to write before I can find words.  I promise myself I can throw it away unseen.

If this were the season of letting go, I would. . .

               Let go of all the measurements and calculations to prove that I’m okay.

               Let go of attempts to be good enough to merit love

               Let go of all the people I have tried to get to fill the holes. Really. Let them all go. Wander out                into traffic to forget me or not.

               Let go of protecting myself from failure (who defines that anyway?) 

               Let go of needing to prove something, protect something, and stand out as something.

               Let go of the worry about where I fit or what people think


I keep picturing Boy two and the bird. We were on our way down the driveway when I saw the cat. She had a bird in her mouth. I stopped the car. Boy two tore open the sliding door and leapt out. He pried open her jaws with his fingers and against her wishes, the cat let go. The bird flew up from her mouth into the air, across the lawn and into the sky.

I am the cat right now, but maybe I will also be the bird.

That’s how far I get. After that weeks go by and I can’t look at what I’d written or think another single thought about letting go. So much for the cat and the bird.

Over the weekend, I take Boy one to the airport to fly alone across three provinces. Upon arrival he is to find a taxi, buy a bus ticket, and use up five hours (all composed of sixty minutes) before boarding a bus. At the other end of the bus ride is two weeks of summer camp a very long way from home.  It is my idea. (A fact which I hate myself for all the way to the airport.) Boy one is a tiny bit nervous (not nearly enough) but also intoxicated with the joy of so much trust, independence and adventure. I hug him goodbye at the airport. He walks away smiling.

Back in the car, I remember the season of letting go. My boy, in the air, above me, beyond me is tearing my heart out. I see a picture of us. Me privately grieving while I smile and gently push him away. He is too happy to see my tears. He cannot stop grinning. This is great comfort indeed.  My heart hurts, but I’m doing my job if in only a whisper I can croak out the word, “Fly!” to my son.

A question knocks at the door of me. Might a season of letting go become also a season of flight? Not just for him, but for me?

Two unexpected acts in the drama of bees

I need you to do the bees by yourself today, I told Boy one. My list is already longer than I can manage and besides I’m grumpy. You’ll be happier out there without me.

Famous last words.

Boy one was back in a few minutes. An entire hive had been ripped apart. The bees were still hanging around but the top honey super (almost ready for human consumption and looking like our best producing hive) was ruined. What wasn’t scraped and eaten was filled with bugs.



There was a third toppled section not pictured here.


The amazing part was that inside the toppled mess, the bees were still at it. Despite a night of pounding rain, two boxes of bees were hard at work. We were back and forth as to what had happened. We looked for breaks in the fence,  called around for advice, read our book, and eventually confirmed that our situation met all the criteria for a bear. We also learned that there have been sightings of a bear in our area.



The girls hanging in there with us until we could get them upright in familiar hive space.


It took us a while to carefully put everybody back together and clean up the mess. We were finished with the work and standing to catch our breath (and talk about electric fence devoted to the hives) when we looked over at another hive.

Wow! I said. That was the hive we were worried about. Look at all those bees. That’s incredible.

So incredible that I took a picture.




Look at the sky! we all said.  The picture doesn’t do it justice but hundreds of feet high and wide looked like fireworks of bees, everywhere around us, then above us.




We realized it wasn’t the kind of incredible we were aiming for (the bees were swarming) but it was such an incredible view of nature’s genius that it felt like a privilege to see it. Four of us were there at that point. Girl two left shortly after the fireworks. She was unimpressed by what we’d read about bees being gentle when they swarm. They were thick in the air, and she was out of there, thanks.




After a few minutes, they began to gather on a cedar try about twenty feet away. It took them a good five minutes to conglomerate themselves. Being there meant we could recapture the swarm. Boy one was the man of the hour and directed the recovery of our bees.  (Since we spend one to two hours at the hive per week, the fact that they swarmed when we were there is especially fortunate.)




With the branch cut, Boy one carried the swarm to an open box. Luckily, we had an extra hive in the garage. We set it up, quickly read up on how to and watched the next unbelievable thing.







Just like the book said they would, a few of them figured out where the hive was and let everybody know about it. Then it was a river of bees marching across the sheet and into the hive for at least ten or fifteen minutes.

Hopes and prayers for bee mentor to materialize continue. So far, so good on no return from the bear.


What the flies and I hear

photo and fly compliments of morguefile. None of ours would sign a photo release.

photo and fly compliments of morguefile. None of ours would sign a photo release.

Boy one is taller than the rest of us and hoping to grow more. Looming manhood seems so inevitable, unstoppable and near that I forget how much he is still a boy. The moments he reminds me are treasures. His boyhood feels like a work of art, an exquisite castle carved in sand with the waves about to reach shore.

As noted before, this son was born with a serious approach to life. All realizations are immense. All perceptions of reality are carried with the weight of unquestionable truth. All thoughts, developing or otherwise, are generously shared. The boy who doesn’t joke had this to say last week.

Did I tell you what I have Girl one doing to help me with chores these days? he asked. Well, I think it’s really helping, he said. It’s helping Girl one, but I think it’s helping Misty too. Girl one is reading to her. Every night. She brings a book out to the barn, sits on the rail and reads. Misty loves it. I mean, I don’t think she understands the story, but she hears Girl one’s voice. She feels loved.

There was the smallest question in his voice. A tiny part of him not 100% sure but what the pony might understand at least a little of the story.

The waves are rolling in to cover up the castles but they’re not here yet. He’s taught himself to juggle. Eggs, he confessed are calling his name. How many might he have and where could he practice?

Girl two invited me to play hangman but there was a twist, invented she explained by Girl one who had decided that hangman made no sense. How would you hang a person one body part at a time? she said when I asked. I’d never considered the question but her solution was delightful. Do yourself a favor and try this version of hangman sometime this weekend.

  1. Get a pencil, and eraser and a pen (pen is optional)
  2. Use only a pencil to draw a full body stick figure hanging from the gallows
  3. Use pen to draw a shark with open mouth and teeth below the body.
  4. Choose word or phrase and begin game.
  5. For every missed letter, erase one body part from the stick figure. Redraw the body part inside the mouth of the shark (preferably with pen for extra drama). Losing players may watch themselves be eaten bite by delicious bite.


The only thing the flies missed seeing was the lawn. Boy two mowed for me. Walking by the next day I saw patches missed all over the place. He doesn’t drink. What had he been thinking? I looked again. All thirty or so unmowed intermittent grass patches were full of daisies. My artist hadn’t missed them, he had seen them!

Brilliance in the becoming


saw this happening out the window and got the camera

saw this happening out the window and got the camera


Turns out this was the goal. :)

This was the goal.


Boy two has a bruise on his head. During our work day he began taking the split logs in his hand as they came off the splitter and tossing them behind him onto the wagon without looking. He stopped after one log flew straight up and came straight back down on his head.


Girl one is reading a novel to Girl two as we drive back and forth to school. It’s a mystery with illustrations of art in parks. I tuned in to catch this.

Girl one: It’s crazy, but sometimes in really old art there are sculptures of naked people.

Girl two groans loudly in protest.

Girl one:  I know. It sounds weird, but it’s the way they were learning about the human body. They didn’t know very much so they made sculptures of it so they could learn about it.

Girl two resigned herself to the senselessness of our ancestors with an exhausted, okay.


Boy one recently completed a submission for an essay contest. The potential prize money is big. Aided by the whole optimism disorder, he decided to give it a try. I was quiet about the possibilities of winning. For a few months my secret service, reverse psychology skills have been frequently required. Due to stealth constraints about my actual interest in him completing the project, the number of times I could say, “how do you not see your current state of not finished as an emergency!” was limited. The essay was due at 11:59 on a Friday night. Around 11:50, his father asked him where he was supposed to submit the project. He wasn’t sure. Turns out there was a form to fill out. The fact that the project was submitted at precisely 11:59 is something he’s immensely proud of. He sees it as a kind of good luck charm.


Boy two announced that he is kicking Boy one out of the solemn brotherhood. He says he can no longer tolerate someone so obsessed with hygiene. Boy two does not have this problem. Following a thoroughness inquiry from this interested mother after a recent shower, he explained that he had indeed washed everything from the top of his head down to about six inches below his knee.

But why would you stop there? I asked. That means you didn’t even wash your feet.

Who would ever wash their feet, he wanted to know. All the soap from your whole body goes there.


There was a knock on my bedroom door recently. Most knockers wait for my invitation then nudge a few inches through the open door to ask their question. This time the knocker closed the door behind them, strode across the room to the other side, and turned to look at me.

I’m almost in tears about everything. Do you know what’s wrong with me?

The buzz of the impractical



To our great satisfaction, our bees remain alive. Hive #2 is vibrant and buzzing madly. Hive #1 (which we worried about due to our human error) is not nearly as vibrant as the other, but it is alive. Buoyed by these wild achievements,  :)  we are with trepidation and a little excitement expanding our partnership. A friend is getting out of the bee business. Weather permitting, we are picking up two more hives over the weekend. Or should we get three? We can’t decide.

A brief list of the things I know:

  1. We don’t know very much about bees.
  2. We might not have what it takes to stick with it. Continued investment into something which has yet to produce a jar of actual honey is questionable.
  3. Bees are the only place where Boy one and I meet as two people who can’t do it without the other person’s help. In the rest of life, he’s struggling to find his feet in ways that don’t require stomping on other people’s heads. With the bees, it isn’t like that. I read, ask questions, try to figure out what we aren’t thinking of that we should be. (My most remarkable ability is that I can do something at an undesirable time because it needs to be done.) I am also ten times as afraid of the bees as he is. This is not a secret, but he never mentions it. I don’t tell him he has to do all the things that make me scared, he does them without me saying anything. 80% of the physical work on the hive is done by him. 100% is done by him until I observe that the bees are calm and work myself up to an approach. This doesn’t bother him.
  4. Boy one never self selects to do the next thing on the bee list. But when a teacher asked his class to fill out descriptors of themselves, he wrote down: trombone player, soccer player, beekeeper.Boy one is a mirror image of my quick, sarcastic, best defense is a good offense, approach to interpersonal conflict. In the winter I proposed a contest. We put a chart on the fridge. A point if you could respond to harsh words with a gentle reply (actual unfairness not required, just the perception of harsh). Boy one loved it. (When he started losing he found a ball and bounced it behind me one day for five minutes waiting for me to snap so he could come back with a gentle reply.) We kept at it for a weeks, awarding points to each other with grace. The whole thing reminds me of the bees. Where losing could still be winning.
  5. At the hives we’re not young man and a forty-two year old privileges/duties dispenser. We’re two people trying to figure out the art of bee keeping. One of us understands that it will probably prove beyond us. The other is a non-cheque writing optimist, with no concept that failure is standard practice for more than half of life’s experiments.
  6. What we are doing is not practical: but there might be more to it than honey.




Humble considerations from the numbered ones



Boy one:  Kale’s mom is just different.

Me: Different how?

Boy one: Well, she’s like really kind and would do anything for one of her kids

Me: Hmm . . .

Boy one: I mean it’s great now but what is Kale going to do when he grows up and no one does stuff for him?

Me unspoken: Not sure . . .kind of stuck back where Kale’s mom is kind, likes her kids and is NOT LIKE ANYONE YOU KNOW.



Girl one on donning her first pair of glasses:

Wow. The world is just so . . . perky. Everything is really perky now . . . oh my gosh, I just realized, I am really going to love my reflection wearing these. I mean I always liked my reflection, but now it is going to be so clear it is going to look even better!


And lastly, Boy one again. After days and days of illness he propped himself up on his elbow to earnestly share this reflection. One might imagine it had been said with a kind of mortified tone . . . like he was confessing something he wasn’t proud of, but no, he was all in, kind of delighted with himself for figuring out how to sum up his clearly logical approach to living.

You know mom, he said. Really, my life philosophy is –  I’m right until you prove me wrong . . .  that’s it. You have to prove me wrong, or I’m right.


You don’t say.

Making men


Boys on Bikes, originally published May 1919. Compliments of OldDesignShop

It started off with rides. I’m teaching Phys.Ed. two afternoons a week at the younger kid’s school. On teaching afternoons there’s simply no way to pick up Boy one unless he has a late practice. Enter the lowly bike. It’s about 18 or so km (10 miles) from the bus stop to here, most of it against the wind. I thought he would balk at the idea but he didn’t. We’ve only needed the bike solution a few times, but the effects have been far reaching. The stress of how he’ll get home those days is gone and we’ve all opened our eyes to the possibilities.

A few weeks ago, Boy one wanted a ride to the much beloved, 150 year old annual fall fair. Timing wasn’t good for me. He opted to bike. It took him an hour. He got permission to put his bike behind the village store. We picked him and his bike up after dark. For the cost of admission and the labour of transportation, he got a much appreciated day of independence.

On the weekend, Boy two was desperate to get to the library. Normally pretty happy go lucky, every once in a while he gets his mind set and becomes remarkably like a dog with a bone. Such was his need for the library. It was the third or fourth day in a row I had been grilled about it, but I didn’t know if I could manage to get him there or not.

Just last week we were chatting with the librarian (librarians = revered members of the social elite in Boy two’s world) about kids who live in town vs. kids from the country. How Boy two would be at the library every day if he could walk over, and how old did he have to be to volunteer there anyway. With Boy two now in obvious emotional pain for want of a library trip, I was feeling bad about not living in town, when I remembered the mighty bicycle.

“I can’t promise to take you. Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t. If you want a guarantee, get your brother to bike there with you. It’ll take you awhile to get there,” I said.

Brother tried to say no due to other plans but did not stand a chance. Normally the weaker debater, Boy two had Boy one signed on the dotted line in pretty short order. They got their music practiced, their beds stripped and some basic chores done. They filled water bottles, threw in some cold pancakes and a hunk of cheese for lunch, grabbed their backpacks for book restocking, and pedalled off. They left at 11:30 and didn’t get home until 2:00.  Due to size, they don’t make bikes for Boy two with big tires and lots of gear options, so their trip was not speedy. With book offerings for themselves and their sisters, the brothers returned home tired, but happy and taller.



Northern Flicker (of the woodpecker family) but of no blood relation to the subject of the post.

Northern Flicker (of the woodpecker family) but of no blood relation to the subject of the post.

Two weeks ago a Northern Flicker came our way. Not being avian savvy, it was first just a bird with a pointy beak and a hurt wing. (We suspected the slinking stray cat in the bushes.) After a day it became clear that Flicker had no intention of winging his way into our hearts and magically healing in the box on our front porch, while ignoring the chicken food and bug offerings we had available. (He should have been eating ants, but I drew the lines at things that could march independently into the house.) So we drove to a bird hospital.

The woman that admitted Flicker flipped him upside down, inspected him and noted not only the wounded wing, but serious bruising and swelling as well. Before the cat, there was some kind of impact, she explained. He seems to have had a very, very bad day, she added. Maybe she said unlucky or maybe I thought it. Regardless, the notion got stuck in my head. Fermenting, wiggling, stirring gently until another way of seeing things occurred to me.

Getting hit, possibly by a car, and then getting attacked, possibly by a cat, really isn’t a great day. Unlucky is one side of the coin for sure. But after that, it falls apart. Flicker survived a punishing blow. Then Flicker survived a predator assault. He might have been finished off by a lawn mower, but a boy happy for diversion was mowing the fence line that day, not an adult determined to finish the job. Another boy, fearless and accustomed to catching all manner of small animals was nearby. Together they secured the bird without further injury. On the following day, a long anticipated, three generation, all family farm work day, the life of a bird might not have trumped the lure of assistance. But it was raining. Every time I looked up to see if it might be clearing, it poured down even harder.

Then there’s the fact that we live in Canada. Not only are there such things as bird hospitals, but there are computers and working internet. For some reason I needed to know conclusively what Flicker was before I agreed to drive an hour to help him. I found bird calls on the internet and played them. When the Northern Flicker calls came on, he called back. Listening to him talk was a convincing argument.

The admitting person told us he might not make it. This weekend I called back with Flicker’s ID number in hand to see what had happened. As it turns out, Flicker had been released back into the wild the day before. While some birds are now privately referring to him as Flicker the Blessed, word has it he’s taken to going by Lucky.

State of the nation summer edition


We started summer on Saturday with a coughing, hoarse Girl one and a UTI for Girl two. After we saw the Dr. I asked Girl two to call her father and tell him she had a urinary tract infection but had medicine and would be ok.

Daddy, she said proudly, I have a urinal confection but I have medicine now so it will be ok.

The picture of bakery counters filled with urinal confections has hit my funny bone. When Girl two reaches 13, she’ll be hard pressed to find an acquaintance who doesn’t know about it.

I wanted to start the summer with a bit of gusto and I didn’t want to wait until Boy one was finished exams so I organized a cleaning party for Monday. When I called my friend to ask if I could hire her 8 and 10 year old to come work with us, she thought I was crazy. I might be, but that was not the point. The bolstered troops announcement was met with much enthusiasm here. By the end of the morning, my downstairs was strewn, but our porch was clean and ready for summer use, the driveway was full, but the garage was swept and tidied. The kids were happy, and content to play for the afternoon. By dinner, it was all put away. If I am crazy, I stand by my insanity.

Yesterday I discovered that Boy two took to cough drops sometime in the winter. I found wrappers strewn throughout his treasure drawer. With no shame he admitted that he eats them for candy.

In the afternoon, we went to the library. Our library is a restored one room school house, an old stone building in the middle of the country. Our first summer library outing was another cause for rejoicing.

Boy two and Girl one hit the car after with books in hand and disappeared into couches and chairs as soon as we got home. Girl two begged miserably for a playmate to no avail. She leapt with excitement when Girl one finished her book after an hour or so, only to be ignored as Girl one walked past her to the library shelf to get a new book. Applesauce came to our rescue. Girl two made it for dessert, spun the spinner herself and chose her own spices.

Yesterday, I had to stop the car on the way home from Boy one’s exams so he could baptize the weeds with his lunch. I wish I could say our exam taker is toiling endlessly. He is toiling mildly. No sweat, but one hopes the heart rate of the brain is elevated ever so slightly. He has two exams left to go and then he will join our book loving group of manual laborers. The thought no doubt delights him.

And that is the state of our nation. :)

Honey Bees


This past weekend we took the plunge. I took the boys to a bee keeping class an hour away. It was scheduled to be three hours long. It went longer. At the two hour mark, I offered to leave early and get the rest of the information to review at home. There were no other children there. At ten, Boy two was deemed the youngest student the classes had seen. I don’t think they were flush with a history of thirteen year olds either.

I wondered if the boys would be intimidated by the six or so other adults.  In things like getting cookies or choosing seats, they were. The minute things turned to bees, they didn’t even remember the other people were in the room. Boy two was raising his hand, asking questions, and offering his own ideas. I tried to kick him quiet with my toe, but before my foot touched him, it turns out he was saying the right answer.

When our delightful fourth generation, all organic bee keeper and teacher, took us out to open up a hive and look at the bees, Boy two was actually dancing. Boy one was motionless, watching every move she made.

If you want to go now, we can, said Boy one when I asked.

No way, said Boy two. I’m not missing anything. This is awesome.

Which probably makes you think there were bells and whistles instead of an off the cuff, slightly meandering, but very experienced beekeeper in her sixties. Boy two jiggled his foot and fiddled with knick knacks. Whenever there was a chance to walk around, both were up and moving. We went to the class with my provisos about not a done deal. If the bees seemed too complicated, the class too long, the whole thing too much work, anything, we could go home and call it a day.

We were the last to leave. We left with a book, equipment, and two hives to paint and set up in preparation for our bees which will arrive mid-June. For the way home, Boy two was squished in the back seat with hive parts beside him, at his feet, and on his lap. Boy one was in similar straights in the front. The car was peaceful; the boys content.

I know I don’t show it like Boy two, said Boy one. But I’m really, really excited about this. Thanks for taking us to the class today.

I smiled relieved that I was right. It was his intent look, I’d been watching all afternoon, not his polite one.

The bees are a win-win in my mind. In the best case scenario, the kids love it, we get honey, they get money, and my apple trees get pollinated. In the worst case scenario, we try it, the bees don’t work for us to upkeep, so we stop with the hope that in a small way, we added to the honey bee population on the farm.

I’ve already started looking at recipes if we make it until the honey comes.