Archive for the ‘Spring’ Tag
I like to keep a basket of rotating picture books in our family room. The kids, every one of them, enjoy discovering each new selection of books, and I love watching them turn the pages and READ. Even my grown-up fourth and sixth graders, who might think they are too big to check out picture books from the library, like to see what I’ve put in the basket. That makes me so happy. Picture books engage the senses on so many levels, and can be profound in their simplicity. Some are nuanced and sophisticated in ways chapter books can’t be. And they are always beautiful.
Today it was time to put out some Easter-inspired books. Easter-bunny that is. Here is what I chose:
HOP! by Phyllis Root, illustrated by Holly Meade. The perfect book for toddlers. It shows five adorable baby bunnies scratching, scritching, wiggling and twitching, and of course, hopping. A fun read-aloud, with rhyming words and repetitive sounds that make it 0h-so-accessible for the diaper crew. And the sweet little bunnies are a happy reminder of the bouncy baby you are reading to.
The next book is just as charming. Bunny Days by Tao Nyeu. It features not five, but six little bunnies. And these bunnies have a friend named Bear who helps them out of some very bunny business. Told in short episodes which are all set in a charming pastoral farmscape of soothing greens and blues, Bunny Days is the perfect combination of sweet and silly. Preschoolers will love to see Bear’s surprising solutions to the bunnies’ predicaments.
My last bunny book is Bunnies on the Go by Rick Walton, illustrated by Paige Miglio. The bunnies in this book love to be on the move, whether that means taking a bike or a balloon, a train or a truck. Each page gives a little hint of what is to come to the observant reader. I love the way the soft, cuddly-looking bunnies team up with all-terrain vehicles to make a book that both boys and girls can enjoy. Another bunny book by the same team is So Many Bunnies: A Bedtime ABC and Counting Book. My daughter used to love reading it, tucked up in her bed, when she was younger.
Spring is here. Ribbons of yellow daffodils are growing on the side of the road. Robbins are hopping around, their red breasts puffed out in front of them. And soccer season has begun. My weekly schedule is suddenly an ink smear of places I need to be. I’m having a hard time keeping up with it all. In fact, I’m NOT keeping up with it all. Last Friday I completely forgot about a music evaluation my son, Hunter, had for piano. It was an exam of sorts, including sight reading, performance, theory, and technique. He’d been working toward it for months. And I forgot. So did he. We both felt terrible. Tears-on-our-cheeks TERRIBLE.
First thing Saturday morning I called his teacher, Rebecca, to apologize. “I don’t even have a good excuse,” I confessed. “We just forgot.”
Hunter’s piano teacher is one of the kindest, most gracious people I know. But even so, I expected her to be frustrated. Disappointed at the least. I would have been. Instead, she responded by saying, “I am so happy to know that everything is okay. I was worried that Hunter was sick.”
Before I had a chance to plunge into an even deeper state of guilt, our sweet teacher went on to say, “Now, Janessa, I’ve had this sort of thing happen to me many times. I wish I had been gentler with myself. Please. Be gentle with yourself.”
There wasn’t much I could say to that, especially not with the tears welling up in my eyes. I shared her words with my son, Hunter, and saw a wide-eyed look of gratitude and adoration appear on his face.
Be gentle with yourself. What a valuable lesson. I hope Rebecca knows she is teaching Hunter so much more than how to play the piano. And I am learning, too.
The lilacs are blooming, the creek that runs past our house is swelling with a fast-moving swirl of cold mountain run off, and the sounds from the schoolyard are growing more and more exuberant. Summer is coming.
Slowly. The air is still a little too cool. The list of to-do’s a little too long. But we are all taking a deep breath and holding it. Waiting for school to end and for lazy summer mornings to settle in; afternoons out of doors with popsicles melting in our hands; evenings surrounded by scrub oak, riding through the foothills on our bikes.
But before we say goodbye to the school year, I have to stop and reflect on how much my kids have grown since last August. The new shoes I bought them don’t fit anymore, the pants have long since worn through at the knee. My ten year old, especially, has grown to a whole new person – tall, smart, and confident. He has had a great year. I’ve saved a letter he wrote to me back in January, for his parent-teacher conference. I thought it said so much about his year as a fourth grader, and his thoughtfulness. It gives a sweet savor to the year’s end.
School is going great! I feel like I am improving in math and other subjects. Even though I am learning so much there are some things I need to improve, like staying on task and working more quickly.
At recess I mostly play tag but on Tuesday it was great to see you at the Book Fair!
Lunch is great too, thanks for making home lunch for me. It is funny what conversations we have at the lunch table.
I love the times when you come to teach writing!
Yesterday we drove away from the snow and cold to spend our Spring Break in sunny southern Utah. We found a cozy little condo in Moab and plan to spend the week out-of-doors as much as possible. We have a geologist with us, who loves to read about the different types of sandstone and how they are all affected differently by erosion. He is constantly pointing out the striations in the rock formations. We have a naturalist, too. She is on the lookout for lizards and chipmunks, and loves rubbing her fingers in soft juniper needles and smelling the sweet and pungent scent they leave. If none of the native animal species present themselves, she is just as happy greeting every dog we encounter at lookout points and parking lots. We also have an explorer. He loves the slickrock, and will run, jump, or ride off any ledge he encounters on the trail. He likes to walk up to the very edge of cliffs and drop-offs, “to see the bottom” of the stony mesas and canyons. He is on the verge of giving me a heart attack. And last, we have our own little wild thing. He answers to the very call of nature, as unpredictable as the weather. One minute he is as destructive as a tornado (he thought the cairns on the side of the trail were put there for him to knock over), the next he is sleeping in his booster seat, as immovable as a glacier.
It is going to be a fun week!
In the birth of a flower, a feeling, a movement, a life, there is so much wide-awake wonder. The recent arrival of my new niece and nephew has me turning to e.e. cummings to find a way of putting words to the celebration of it. I find him using Spring as a metaphor, in phrases like ‘in Just-spring’ and ‘Spring is in the world’ and ‘spring like a Hand in a window carefully moving New and Old.’ Trying to capture that just-born moment when the whole world changes.
And now I am here, myself trying to capture the shifting between old and new in this portrait of twice newly new. Trying to comprehend the infinite perfection of two tiny, brand new lives newly arrived.
I haven’t seen the babies yet. Just poured over pictures sent across the channels of the internet. I can’t wait to see and hold them, which means taking a trip to Idaho as soon as they are home from the hospital and can endure my little crew of crazies crashing down upon them with all their enthusiasm and affection.
As I’ve looked at the photos – the tiny hands, the perfect feet, I’m made painfully aware of how precious life is, in all its fragility, its sweetness, its smallness, and its strength. And I think, maybe, that when I see a newborn baby – as newly new as Spring blowing through the tender branches of our magnolia, pulling the buds open as it passes – that I am seeing life broken down in infinitesimal portions. That inside I am feeling how new and precious and fragile and small and full each moment of every day is. So much is taken, so much is given, so much is offered, and I see it in the tiny fingers and toes and my heart is wrenched open and the newness I see is raw all around me and I am in awe and I ache. That is the wide-awake wonder. That is the celebration. That is the newly, newly new.