Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The Tomten's house

Once upon a time someone came to this place, deep in the middle of the forest, and built a home and a garden.

The Tomten lives in the middle of an old piñion tree in the woods. He only comes out at night when the humans are asleep. Sometimes they see his prints in the dirt, but no one has ever seen the Tomten.

He is an old, old Tomten, and no one knows when he came to the woods. Although no one has ever seen him, they know he is there.

On small silent feet, the Tomten moves about in the moonlight, making little tracks in the dirt. He talks to sleeping forest animals in Tomten language, a silent little language animals can understand.

"Droughts come and droughts go,
Thunderstorms come and thunderstorms go,
Soon the grass will grow green and tall again."

The house where the humans live is silent. The grown-ups sleep through the hours of cricket song, not knowing that the Tomten is there.

The Tomten tiptoes to the children's room, and stands silently wishing they would wake up so that he could speak to them in Tomten language, a silent little language that children can understand.

Night is brief here in the middle of summer. The Tomten leaves milk for the cat before returning to the pinion tree.

The grown-ups rise with the sun and go about their business, but the children see his tracks.

Every night here in the wood, everyone will be fast asleep. Everyone but one...

Year follows year, but as long as humans live near the old woods, the Tomten will traipse between the old piñion tree and their houses on his little silent feet.

- Credit for this Tomten flight of fancy goes firstly to Astrid Lindgren, secondly to the Randall Davey Audubon Center in Santa Fe for a wonderful summer camp week of bug-chasing, and thirdly to one three-year old's profoundly overactive imagination left to run wild in the woods, speaking only a language that Tomten's can understand. Although no one saw exactly where the imaginagion went, in the morning there were little tracks everywhere. 

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Little tent in the big woods

I make a rubbish pioneer woman. If I lived in a little house on the prairie 100+ years ago, my children would've surely been eaten by locusts and blizzards by now.

Chasing rain fairies. 
Since fortune has returned me to the land of carving one's destiny from Earth using only bare hands and duct tape, and I am doing my best to wade back out into the physical world without injury. Last weekend for instance, I returned to the mountains for the first time in many years.

And I am pleased to report that it all went wonderfully. As I discovered, the trick to happiness in the wild is this: go with contemporary pioneers. These are people who can tie knots in their sleep, assemble tents blindfolded, build campfires in hurricanes, and send even the most rabid of imaginary bears whimpering back into the woods with a mere nod.

I had forgotten how rain sounds on a tent flap, and the shape the mist takes when it munches up pine trees from top to bottom. I'd forgotten the smell of rich, black mountain dirt, strangely simlar to that of a new baby. Meadow flowers are taller than I had recalled, and brighter. Mountain streams are colder.

Ana tells me she wants to move to the mountains where the rain fairies live, and she never wants to return home. I seem to remember having this same thought years ago too, long before a fear of bears and tent-failure set in. 

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

The tortoise and the haircut

When in the course of human events:
  1. The scissors go missing
  2. Your kid decides to hide out in the bathroom for twenty minutes.
Call the SWAT team.

Do not - I repeat DO NOT - react like a lethargic turtle. Trust me.
Weapon of hair destruction. 

I blame our deforestation incident on Haircut Compulsion Disorder (HCD), which runs in my family.

In addition to HCD, babysitting karma has a long memory.

Years ago BC, I was entrusted with the care and feeding of someone else's kids for a mere hour. A haircut incident occurred about five minutes into my supervisory tenure, the result of which was about what Fozzie Bear would look like if he tried to give himself a modern art mohawk after drinking three bottles of gin.

Their unfortunate mother had to view the haircut without the help of gin, and was understandably not amused. In the silver linings department, after my experience this morning, I finally feel that have finally repaid my debt to society for that episode.

Of course, babysitting karma and me are not through with each other yet.

There was that other time I was on watch and the kids found a sharp implement with which to mow down all the plants in the backyard, the result of which was about what Fozzie Bear's yard would look like if he tried to give it a modern art mohawk after drinking three bottles of gin...