Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wanting Picture Books in Winter While in Late Summer-Rethought

A couple years ago Chup stole
some children's books from his parent's house. I had nothing to do with it--mind you--although he wouldn't have stolen them had I not said I wanted them.

They were in the deep recesses of the basement playroom. No one had touched them in decades and that is how Chup stacked them up and put them in our car with a clear conscience. They were children's encyclopedias from the 1950s and A Child's Garden of Verses from Robert Louis Stevenson illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa. I had a vision of putting them in a nursery someday for classic reading with a cutesie vintage touch.

Had I known stealing these delightful books so many years ago would come back to punish me, I may have reconsidered. Today, in fact, I opened up A Child's Garden of Verses for some light after-nap reading to The Chief and my world ended.

That last sentence was inspired by pregnancy hormones which whispered in my ears, "Go for the drama! Why not?"

But there I was in my room reading a poem about picture books on a wintry day with Gyo's heavenly illustration of a little girl looking out the window onto a frozen pond drizzled in snowflakes and I stopped. The combination of picture books and wintry days and a childhood with a window overlooking a pond made me sad. A whimsical sadness that broke my heart.

The Chief looked up at me and stared. Then, as if he needed more information, he moved his face closer until his nose was kissing mine. When this produced nothing, he got up and headed to the door which leads to our backyard.

I sat alone for a moment, wishing I could give my son that page, that poem in real life. Days full of books and inclement weather.

When Chup came home from work I showed him the page and read him the poem. There was some silence afterward, so finally I said something.

"Don't you want that life for our children?"

"What life?"

"That life of picture books and ponds and snowflakes?"

"Well . . ."

Chup started to say something, but my big sobbing tears interrupted him.

"Are you okay?" He asked instead.

"No!" I turned the page and showed him another wintry scene where a little boy was towing a red sled over snow-covered hills. Behind him in the distance was a cozy country home with a puffing chimney.

"Don't you want that to be The Chief?" I blubbered pointing at the page. "Don't you want that to be our house all cozy against the blowing snow?"

I wiped my nose with the back of my wrist. With my blurry eyes I could see my husband looking at me. Confused, but compassionate.

"Yes. Of course I do." He said. "What do we need to do?"

"We need lots of land. And you need to be either a farmer or independently wealthy. And a pond."

"Ok." He breathed. (Kindly taking me seriously.) "Let's start with dinner. What would you like for dinner tonight?"

"I don't know." I sobbed.

"How about curry?"

When that was decided I went to find The Chief, he was sitting on my bedroom carpet looking out to our backyard. We've been spending the afternoons outside noting the changing colors on the mountainscape next to our "pond" which is really the plastic pool.

My outburst must've been a chastisement for stealing those books years ago, because how could I want more than what I already have? I've got a view of a majestic mountain range. Right out my back door. If we traded those mountains for a farm, I'd spend the rest of my life crying to Chup,

"Don't you want those mountains back?"

Of course, that would be his punishment for stealing those books in the first place.

We deserve each other.

p.s. I still want the land, pond and mountainscape. Can a girl have it all?


Wow. Having my comments back on is life changing.
(again, going for the pregnancy-embellishmented drama, sort of)

Thanks to the commenters so far, I 've come to an understanding about why I was crying this afternoon (besides my bad karma for stealing). It is because I worry my children will never know simplicity. Not like the simplicity I've known, or the simplicity my mother knew, or the simplicity found in Stevenson's words with Fujikawa's pictures.

Unless I move them to a farm.

Or a secluded mountain hideaway.

And speaking of simplicity, are my conclusions too simplistic?

Don't answer that. Let me dream on.