Summers of Alice
"'I just feel tired of everything sensible and I'm going to let my imagination run riot for the summer.'"
- Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery
When Alice was born seven years ago, I began to write to her. Just little things; how she looked, how she changed, what she did, how we loved her. Little did I know what a gift it would turn out to be - for both of us, and now for our second, Milo. I can look back and read about all those "little things" that are now worth more than anything and marvel at how quickly I had forgotten them. Luckily for me, “The weakest ink is better than the strongest mind,” or so the Chinese proverb goes.
Here are some excerpts that are rife with our summer childhood moments...
"My favorite moment of the day was this: I held you in my arms - you, freshly bathed - as we inhaled the fragrant, full scent of our towering lilac bushes. It was warm like a bathtub and just turning into a sleepy, dreamy twilight; the sun making the clouds glow peach in the purple sky. The night was lilac. You giggled as I breathed in exaggeratedly. It was magic." - 5.13.13
“This year, summer smells like strawberries and baby sunscreen. It feels like the wind in my hair when I bike, pulling you in the trailer behind me with my skirt dancing - some moments, precariously. It feels like dirt under my fingernails while playing in my garden, and like your warm body snuggled to mine when we nurse in the big chair. It looks green, and fresh, and sun-dappled and it tastes juicy and ripe; strawberry juice running down your chin. It sounds like birds in the backyard, trains blowing through, and baby giggles. It is the best summer.” - 6.21.13
"The other night, you woke up crying, so I got you and we rocked on the porch swing for a while in the warm, humid air. There was a storm coming so we listened to the thunder and watched lightning crack open the sky. You were a sweaty little bug but insisted on being wrapped in your blanket cocoon anyway. You fell asleep there in my arms. It was quiet and still except for the thunder. Then I laid you back down in your crib. I remember thinking what a sweet moment it was." - 5.12.14
"You are an expert gardener, carefully stepping on the stones laid out in the garden beds for just such a purpose, pulling weeds with us at night. You chase bunnies and proudly announce that you ‘took one for a ride.’ If you want to go out, you don’t ask - you simply put on your boots, flower hat, and sunglasses. I love to see you run around between the tomatoes, herbs and sugar snap peas, examining bugs and rocks and anything else that catches your interest. You usually have a special find to show me when you come in, along with a boot-full of rocks and dirt between your fingers. Sometimes I catch you taking your boots off and digging your toes into the pea gravel and your face says ‘this feels so good.’ It's kind of magical watching you learn. If there is ever a ripe berry to be picked, you devour it before anyone else does - really, even before it's ripe. It could be pink instead of red and it's in your mouth quick as candy. In fact, I don't know that I've witnessed a red one...they disappear every morning before I can see them with my own eyes :) You have a little yellow watering can we fill every day, and you water daddy's pots of sage, cilantro, oregano, and basil on the deck. As you walk across, you slosh and spill a third before you get to the plants, but you don't seem to mind. You just bring it back for another round. I have a little plot of earth for you to tend next year. We're preparing it now, laying down compost and mulch and weeding it so the soil is good and ready. I'm excited for you to get to pick out what you want to plant, take care of it, and watch it grow. Alice the Gardener - that's you." - 7.24.14
"June is skirt weather, fireflies, baby sun hats, daily ice cream, and nighttime walks around the neighborhood." to Alice, 6.24.15
“The day was breezy and blue, white clouds sailing noiselessly overhead. It was the kind of day best spent on a quilt with books and pillows, so that is precisely what we did! Every few months, I gather a batch of books from our personal library arsenal to suit the season. We got a little Vitamin D, dirt on our feet, more stories in our hearts, and new memories to cherish." - 5.22.17
“Alice, you never cease to amaze me with the abilities you possess. The latest? Firefly whisperer. You coax them out of the air and onto your hands like it's second nature. You have an innate talent in bringing them to you and depositing them into their new ‘home.’ (More like a time-out spot.) We catch and release every few minutes, but you don't mind. You're not in it to collect them - you're in it for the chase. You are absolutely not scared of bugs - a trait I both love about you and envy. There was always something magical about fireflies, but you just made it even more so..." - 7.2.15
"Have I mentioned I love being a stay at home mama? I never dread Mondays. Mondays are...dare I say it?...marvelous. This morning was a particularly lovely one. We woke when we were ready and wandered out to the garden to play a bit. I needed to tie up some tomatoes in the new towers we built and pick some raspberries. I slipped out with bare face and bare feet, a wide-brimmed sun hat and two little people casting my own personal shadows.
After picking our garden's bounty, we went inside and washed a grassy, juicy Milo in the sink. Then you requested french toast to accompany our fresh raspberries, so we made a berry reduction and readied our batter for the bread. Once it was on the table, we slathered everything with liberal amounts of Nutella and raspberries and tucked into a decadent brunch.
I washed dishes and did a load of laundry. Milo napped. You enjoyed an episode of Kipper. *Sigh* A luxurious Monday morning indeed..." - 8.3.15
"One delicious Monday, we ventured out to the farm for some berry-picking fun with friends. The morning was cloudy and warm; a breeze stirring the scent of strawberries, making us eager to gather. More of those sweet little gems made it into our mouths than bowls, but we still managed to hunt enough for three pints of homemade jam. We lounged on shade-dappled blankets. Scarlet juice stained lips, cheeks, and shirts. Boots and hats went missing. You littles frolicked through the patch, leaving squashed berries and echos of laughter in their wake. Glorious." - 6.19.16
“What a marvelous summer we've been having! The sun keeps us in a fair amount, but there are plenty of days spent at the zoo and out picking strawberries and raspberries. We found some garage sale scores, made an indoor picnic, celebrated birthdays, enjoyed cousin time, and went on a mini family vacation. How is it August?” - 8.1.16
Someday I'll give them these journals so they can read about all their silly, messy, adorable happenings. I hope they remember our unplugged, simple life of small joys. And I pray they’re overwhelmed with how much we love them.