The children have a wagon. It was a gift from their grandmother. It is new and it provides them with something to do. They tumble out of the house onto the cement and the older one waits while the younger one climbs in. Both of these actions look strange: the three year old with his weight on one muscled leg, a fistful of wagon handle, standing to the side, almost patient while the baby climbs in. He looks like an actor playing an adult. The baby is a monkey more than a boy and his legs are fat more than muscle and his skin is white more than brown. He is curved and succulent and goes head over leg over bum into the red wagon. And then they go, the boy pulling the monkey up and down the sidewalk. There is light; morning sun at an angle and I am on the steps with a coffee and a book that I keep opening and closing. And then I look up and think that I should get my camera but also that I don’t want to get my camera to nail down the scene. A pair of squirrels chase each other. The children smile at me as they rattle past: the monkey from under a floppy hat so that his face is all bow shaped mouth. He bends his head back so that his neck is craned and he is looking up into the trees. He squeals and I imagine this to be a gesture of delight but with the monkey baby I think I am always mostly positing - who can know what emotions flood and move through him. The boy smiles also and pounds the cement with his bare feet and I can see his eyes and I don’t think it is positing to say that I see pride. Not the reckless joy of the monkey baby but the richer joy of accomplishment. The joy of work. The wagon is heavy. He can pull is brother. He can add a branch and pull that too. He can turn the wagon around at the road and he can pull it all home. I am more envious, I find, of his joy than then the baby’s delight. And so they pass, the boy and the monkey. The light is still how it is and I don’t go get my camera but instead drink my coffee and reopen my book and there is a power in letting things go. The joy of release.
“You know what it is to open up a cottage. You barge in with your box of groceries and your duffelbag full of books. You drop them on a counter and rush to the far window to look out. I would say that coming into a cottage is like being born, except we do not come into the world with a box of groceries and a duffelbag full of books—unless you want to take these as metonymic symbols for culture. Opening up a summer cottage is like being born in this way: at the moment you enter, you have all the time you are ever going to have.” -Annie Dillard
Ives prays before breakfast in the porch and he asks that we hold hands. He says "Jesus in name, thank you for the good food that mumma made, amen" and we let go of hands and I lift my coffee and Thom points at Ives with his first finger and says "I love you" and Ives snaps at the finger with his mouth aiming to bite it, teeth hitting teeth and Thom pulls his finger back but not his sentiment of love. We spread jam on our toast and drink our coffee and peal our hardboiled eggs and the shells make small music on the plates. "What is it that love dares the self to do?"
"There grew between him and Ella a conspiracy of experience, as if the raising of children, the industry of supporting each other in ways practical and tender, and the sum of years and then decades of private conversations and small intimacies - the odour of each other on waking; the trembling sound of each other's breathing when a child was unwell; the illnesses, the griefs and cares, the tendernesses, unexpected and unbidden - as if all this were somehow more binding, more important and more undeniable than love, whatever love was. For he was bound to Ella."
- Richard Flanagan (The Narrow Road to the Deep North)