Mama Song


Down in the neighborhood when she as young
Cheryl was a friendly one who always got along
hop the fence right after school oh what a lot of fun-
to be jumpin rope and hopin scotch and skip n play n run?
But when the day was through she wished it wasn’t done–
she had to go home alone.

Suppertime and sleepy time oh wouldn’t it be nice-
for a brother or a sister who could make it fun by twice?
No one knew her secret wish but every night in bed
she closed her eyes and said….

“Oh I love my ma and I love my pa
and I thank dear god above,
but when I lay me down,
I pray another round:
“won’t you give me a little friend to love?” Continue reading “Mama Song”

Gone Spargeling

5WbNBE1Ttvh45zaJhcVUbFcLudwY_dPae4CeVaI0ohIAs I laced up my running shoes I told my Mom: “I’ll be at the turn in the road where the asparagus grows in 15 minutes.” She didn’t seem to want to go unless everyone could come and went about trying to rally the scattered troops. I finally left, frustrated that mom was going to miss out on something she wanted because it wasn’t going to be perfect. “Let’s just do it!” I thought. “Why does it have to be all or nothing?” I made mental markers of various patches of roadside asparagus as I ran and shook my head that we wouldn’t pick it after all. And then, as I rounded that one dangerous corner where the road cuts sharply and you can’t see cars or pedestrians or even tractors from either direction, there was mom. There was mom! Continue reading “Gone Spargeling”

Troopers- looking well


The sunrise this morning is beyond description. Mom and grandma are perched on the couch, looking out the window at the horizon like children waiting for a mysterious visitor to knock on the door. Their innocence and wonder melts my heart and I join them. As the sun rises, is it pierced in half by a narrow thick cloud that creates two mini-suns out of the one. It looks like two egg yolks merging, or rather one egg dividing. I’ve this sort of thing in biology textbooks and through zoomed-in scopes but never at the macro level with my own eyes. We are watching creation, the origin of light, our eager anticipation is being rewarded.

Continue reading “Troopers- looking well”

Troopers- control


This morning, the weather is clear. It’s time to go.

Everything mom does is slow. Maybe not slow-slow but slower than I would do it and it’s frustrating me. Why can’t I be patient? Why do I see in each moment an opportunity to show her what she could be doing better? I feel out of control. There has never been a car with so much steering from the backseat. “Maybe you’d like to drive?” Mom says and I agree but we don’t switch right away. We are going the same place, we are going there together, and when we get there, we will still be together. Breathe. Two minutes later, a car slides down a hill into our lane and smashes into us. Continue reading “Troopers- control”

Troopers- for the love

Waking up in the hotel room is nothing like it was in the little cabin. There is no window to sit and watch the sunrise from. In fact, when I look out the window, I see nothing. The storm has subsided not at all and sunrise will serve only to change the hue of our blindness.

The storm is so serious that the people on the news have given it a name– Neptune. I am inclined to scoff at the dramatization borne of the 24-hour news cycle but there’s no question the storm is worthy of a proper noun. Downstairs, at the front desk I find out that all the roads are closed or closing. There is no way out of town. Snowmobiles are being blown off the road. “Would you like to make a reservation for anther night?” I’m sad to think about our little cabin, the place that mom and grandma love so much, sitting there at the opposite perimeter of that white throbbing blob on the Doppler. Reluctantly, we put that extra night on hold.

I take the opportunity to use the hotel sauna. It’s not the authentic Finnish variety that the UP is known for, but it’s something. It feels nice to be too warm, to take a break from my family. The only other person in the sauna is a middle-aged man who tells me about the ice caves he visited yesterday. I tell him I’d like to go with my mom and Grandma and he asks me if I’m married. I’m so caught off guard that I answer honestly– “no”– instead of appropriately– “what the hell?”

Being cooped up like this makes me think about the phenomena of “hurricane babies” where, in the prolonged absence of modern diversions of electricity and transportation, people commence to partake in some very old-fashioned distractions. Today happens to be Valentine’s Day and I smirk just to imagine the improvised celebrations that will come out of all those cancelled dinner plans. I predict that there will be a swell of bellies this summer, a sweep of babies this fall and that, for as may lives as he may take today, time will reveal Neptune to be quite prolific. Continue reading “Troopers- for the love”

Troopers- snow canoe


The streets in Marquette are closed off where the sled dogs will be coming through in the next few hours. We get a spot by the window in a downtown pizza parlor and watch the people congregate on the sidewalks. I’ve never see a sled dog race before but I’ve imagined it. In my mind, the starting line looks something like that of a horse race (though I’ve never seen that either), all the teams are lined up together, with animals straining against that boundary for the moment when the gun will blast and they can take off together in a mass of confusion and energy and competition. Continue reading “Troopers- snow canoe”

Troopers- rise UP


Every February, mom and grandma take the long drive up to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to experience the heart of winter in the tiny town of Paradise and watch a dogsled race. The UP 200 is a qualifying race for the Iditarod and I am fascinated by its modest exoticism.

Even before I reached a maturity level where it occurred to me to be nice to my mom, I reluctantly admitted that the trip sounded rather awesome. Now that I’ve reached the maturity level where I deign to love and appreciate and enjoy her, I have been trying to come along on one of these annual trips but it’s never happened before now. I’m doubly excited to be here because we will be returning to some of the sanctified scenes I passed through on foot a year and a half ago en route to a new life.

Well, that life is approximately as messy as it has ever been and I need a break. I don’t know of a unit of measurements for internal chaos but this is registering pretty high. I need to escape that other life for my sake and the sake of those I’ll be leaving behind for awhile. This trip presented itself on the horizon from the squiggles of my everyday life and I am clinging to it. It’s time to rise up: up to the UP, up from the morass of my self-pity and confusion, and up to a place where distance grants perspective and climate demands clarity.

Continue reading “Troopers- rise UP”

the oral tradition

sunsetMom is the musical one. She is colors and love and sweetness and children. Dad is the serious one. He is authority and logic and responsibility and adults. They both worry, in their own way. Dad’s are generally considered to be more founded, even if they often seem to lack emotional content. For a long time, I have been Daddy’s girl. Even before Mom was pregnant with me, he chose my name, and then when I was born, it was on his birthday. So we are bound together in more than just the usual way. Growing up, I often considered myself to be the closest-thing-he-has-to-a-son. though my burden has been somewhat reduced since my sisters started getting married to burly men who better fill the role.

Dad and I often would go on long rough bike rides. I, strong, would pass him on the uphill, but he, braver, would pass me on the way down. We watched sports together. He helped me with my physics homework. When I went to college, I studied Mechanical Engineering, just like he had. It felt like the right thing to do, the respectable and logical thing.

For 4 ½ years and beyond, I utterly denied the other part of me that Mom represented. Continue reading “the oral tradition”