Springtime is fading, summer beginning to bud. There are moments midday when the warm air and sunshine begin to swell, a foretaste of long summer days spent sheltered by dry, air conditioned rooms. But still not yet. Still there is rain, cool nights, wildflowers. I hold on to these wildflowers like I did those last golden leaves of fall in Colorado. Until they have all withered or been mowed down, I will claim it still springtime.
Sayla loves dirt. Grainy dirt, sandy dirt, wet dirt. One of her favorite spots is under the carport where the dusty dirt lies. Her ritual is to pace back and forth, squatting down to grab a handful, throwing it wildy about, mostly on her own head. She rubs her eyes clean and pays no mind as the dirt covers her face like soot and settles on her scalp. And then she takes a seat, begins scooping the dirt onto her legs, admiring the finely ground earth as it slips through her fingers. The dirt beds down beneath her nails, thickens on the edges of her mouth, weaves beneath the fabric of her pants and socks.
One of the things that scared me about having kids was that time would start to move too fast; a physical, tangible thing (a child) representing that passage of time would constantly remind me of the years slipping past. Moreover, that thing (a child) would also usher in a new stage of life, meaning a season left behind: of being a young married couple, travelers and free, unfettered to parental responsibility.
I have this theory that as we get older time appears to move faster, that the greater the distance we have travelled in time the less length each moment sustains. In more concrete terms, one year to a ten-year-old is 10% of his lifetime (and he can’t even remember all of those years), a hefty chunk. But for a fifty-year-old, one year is just 2% of his lifetime. Time is stretched and warped into an unidentifiable blob of memories, of just yesterdays. Inevitably we begin to lament how fast it all goes by. And this mourning—the passage of time—is tossed at you tenfold once you have a baby in arms: “Before you know it, they’ll be graduating high school!; Enjoy it, they grow up fast!; The days are long, but the years are short!”
I know. I feel it. Heavy and weightless all at once. Fleeting and halting altogether.
A soft breeze graces my face and rustles through trees, the freshness of springtime still palpable. Birds twitter and cheep, delighted that warmth and life have been restored. Eyes closed. Deep breath. Taking it all in. I hear her speaking, her own sweet language with innocent inflections, and it grips me: this moment is but a vapor. I yearn to hold tight, bottle it up, squeeze every last drop, but this season of springtime, this sweet stage in my daughter’s life, I cannot keep or sustain it.
And so I create my own ritual. I turn my attention to the fullness right before me, the sweet spots of laughter and tiny feet, of monkey hugs and hair nuzzles. I take handfuls of these gifts and throw them wildly about, rubbing my eyes wide open, stuffing my heart full. And though these dusty dirt blessings slip right through my hands, falling softly, spreading wide, I delight no less in the loss thereof.
There will be more dirt.