Babysitting in Idaho 2

Monday November 13, 2006 12:30 P.M.

Abel sleeps, second nap this morning. I fed, changed, carried, played with him since 9:00 when Amy and Joe left with Ethan for school. He got tired in my arms, turning to jelly, eyes closing. While I worked at the computer he sat in his rocker and talked, and when he complained, I just tapped the moon and star rattles.

It snowed four inches last night and this morning. Listing to Beethoven sonatas with him in my arms and looking out the window as the snow fell recalled Joe’s first winter—the 200 lp record collection and stereo left to us by Gene Spierman when he went from New York to stay at Galley Bay where they had no electricity. The quiet of the pasture filling up with snow, the black firs surrounding it like a palisade, the fire in the barrel heater, the baby drinking and purring, bread baking in the woodstove, like this a winter pastoral, but then besieged by the anxiety of the next shift at the mill or of the roof springing new leaks, or of our marital discord, or of illness striking us or a goat or the weasel getting more chickens or the pipes freezing. But Joe and Amy have their demons too—not enough sleep, the housing market continuing to soften, the possibility of interest rates going up, the hole in Ethan’s heart not closing up by itself.

Away from home, pitching in for these somewhat stressed but capable and clear-valued children, after last week’s election and no teaching duties till March make this a time of low tension. Even my breathing has improved after I took myself off the double steroid medication the doctors prescribed and instead used gargling with salt water as a way to avert sinus infections. My own hound of inadequate productivity has been calmed with the dinner I cooked last night, taking a few pictures, copying a few CD’s for this household. The sun is out, sky is blue, shadows of the leafless aspens sharp against the brilliant snow.

Tuesday November 14

This morning, sitting in the blue bouncer after a full feed and a good night’s sleep, Abel gave me a smile that started at his mouth, widened to include both cheeks and then flowed out of his eyes in a crescendo of brilliance and love. I felt my own head melting from the top down like an ice cream cone.

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