Monday, January 14, 2008

Ode to Sunshine

Yesterday, Diana, Sunday School Coordinator, asked the kids, "What have you been praying for lately?"

One four-year-old hand shot up, and answered in a squeaky but earnest voice: "Sunshine." Beyond the laughter, I swear I heard a collective "Aaaaaaaa-MEN!" rise up to the heavens from the soggy streets of the unchurched Emerald City.

Then, behold: the sun did shine.

After lunch, Tobin took Sylvia on a two hour walk around the neighborhood. Not a Forward March with a purpose, mind you, but rather the kind of meandering stroll wherein it takes an hour to travel eight blocks because one must stop to examine, touch, and smell so many treasures on the way. They stopped to visit with a man drumming wildly on the sidewalk, working bongos and a sliding bell contraption simultaneously. He regaled them with tales--generously embellished--of his travels throughout the world. He asked if Tobin could spare a "Donation to the Arts." He thanked Tobin and told him that he really should visit the good french bakery conveniently situated behind him. Then he disappeared just as the jolly baker materialized--wiping his hands on his apron--as the rolls, pastries, and goodies beckoned behind him, leaving Tobin to wonder whether he'd fallen prey to an elaborately choreographed Pastry Set-Up. Sylvia ate her first-ever eclair, focusing on the chocolate icing and vanilla custard; neglecting the pastry as any four-year-old should.

Later, we took our film canister rockets to the park, and (fueling them with Alka Seltzer and water) launched them into the sky. Eli discovered an abandoned dump truck. Sylvia came upon a large patch of mud. After a short period of intense examination Sylvia pronounced it as "Very Good Mud." She and Eli worked together to transport the Very Good Mud, load by load, into the sandpit, in a scheme that involved sticks, digging, mud-splashed pants, a wee bit of mud tasting, and two very happy children.

Later, on a walk in the dark, Tobin explained to me the evolution of the sun. If this were a novel, I would call this chapter: Talk Nerdy To Me. He outlined how the sun is fueled by the something-or-other of hydrogen plus helium, and how eventually, however many million years from now, the hydrogen will run out, and the sun will be left with just helium, and it will go psh psh psh and blow up like a giant, hot balloon. Don't even think about livin' on Earth when that happens. Word, people! Bust open the freezer, invite the neighbors over, and have yourself a good old fashioned Hurricane Party, 'cuz there aint no reason to hold onto that frozen roast anymore! Later, after the sun runs out of helium, it will start working through-- using whatever word is the opposite of that something-or-other above-- oh yes, this is Fision, the one above is Fusion--all of the elements of the Periodic Table, until it finally gets to lead. At that point, the sun will shrink to the size of a tiny leaden bullet, and with a metallic plunk, will fall from the sky into a shiny silver milk bucket. Tobin didn't actually say that last part, but that's how I imagine it going down.

When we got home, Tobin took the kids back outside, for the night was clear and there were stars to be seen. With star-chart in hand, he pointed into the sky, excitedly directing the kids' attention to each constellation, calling them into being with the power of his Papa-hood. As I wiped off the dining room table, I glanced out the window to see Tobin and the kids sharing their galactic discoveries with a 70-something neighbor who was out walking her dog.

Oh, the things one can see, do, and discover on a day filled with sun!

Sadly, even as I write this--periodically gazing out the rain-streaked window into my swampy backyard and my half-rotten, leaky, rain-abused garage--I look upon yesterday as one reminiscing a vacation spent many years ago, in a beautiful village in Mexico with a name long forgotten. Maybe I actually went there, but maybe it was only a character in a novel I once read. I can't be sure.

Just now, hearing our cat Atticus meow mournfully from the back porch, Eleanor declared in her most pitiful voice, "Mama, I know what he wants. He wants to get out of the rain. He wants the sun to come back."

Better say your prayers, kitty.
If you have a minute, stop by my other blog at Living Lightly & Deeply, where my friend and co-blogger Kathy has posted her New Year's Resolutions.


jen said...

i am sitting here singing "let the sunshine in, the suuuuunnnshine innnn" just for you - in honor of your lovely story and the fact that it's you, you are posting!

bgirl said...

great day ally. how i love your family and am in hysterics over "talk nerdy to me".

Seattle Mamacita said...

beautiful collection of thoughts and these are the ones that carry us through the long rainy days...i'm praying too Atticus.

Pate Family said...

I comfort myself with the thought hat if we lived in a place where it didn't rain all the time, the sunny days wouldn't be as magical. Thanks for sharing this magical day. Tiffany

Anonymous said...

Tiffany has it right. Here in London -- where the question is how MUCH will it rain today -- thos rare fully sunny days are absolutely unexpected gifts.

AA Milne would be proud of the Very Good Mud.

Julie Pippert said...

How lovely and fun. Thanks for including us with your picturesque words. :)

Jenn said...

...walkin on sunshine....and don't it feel good.

painted maypole said...

great post. and having just finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird I LOVE your kitty's name!

Kendra Joy said...

Atticus, what a great name! :) Is your kitty as wise as its name implies?

We have had TWO sunny days in a row here in Eugene! I am shocked and in love with that bright ball of helium and whatever that makes these days so fantastic! What a sad day it would be for the sun to die entirely. Thanks for sharing your adventurous day. I laughed for a good while over the "talk nerdy to me" comment in the middle.

KC said...

What a lovely day and such beautiful children!!!

Worker Mommy said...

Aah the wonders of the sun. I feel much the same way as you and your family do...only I could never put it so eloquently.