“I like the conversation.”
Olive calls to me, as I turn off lights in the hall before bed during a sleepover.
I spray her pillow with aromatherapy sleeping scents from Nia, which leads to talk of smells we like: rose, lavender, jasmine, sandalwood, and peppermint. Which leads to talk of fruit: berries, melons, tropical and citrus. Then we’re on to vegetables: green, leafy, red and orange. Olive talks flavors, tastes, textures and feelings: “smooth,” “crunchy,” “sweet,” “juicy”.
“The only vegetable that’s juicy is a tomato,” she insists, “which are really a fruit.”
A mango with its skin turned out is a “hedgehog”. We come up with a word for how a banana feels. She wonders if lemon and lime are really brother and sister. I tell her I think they are.
We spent time on the porch earlier watching a windstorm, its noisy gusts coming in predictable spurts, rattling branches in the high trees on the lake side, moving through the gangway, across the alley, and finally slamming the bamboo screen hanging from my porch ceiling. Flailing from its hooks in desperation, the screen is a telling symbol of the flogging we’ve taken this year: shredded at its base, still holding tight.
There are some children playing in the alley, shouting and giggling with each other. Siblings. Olive deciphers what they’re saying. Something about a lava monster.
“They’re talking about a game we play at school,” she reports.
The lava monster game is played by jumping from thing to thing, avoiding touching the ground where the lava monster might kill you. We talk about hide and seek, monsters, and the things in stories that scare us.
“I don’t like reading about dead people,” she says.
Two little children on bikes, led by an older girl on a scooter, come racing down the alley, going only as far as my driveway, then turn around. They do this at least ten times. Then the wind picks up again and it starts to rain. They ride home, shrieking and laughing, as dark moves in.
“Pretty soon you can ride YOUR bike in the alley with other kids,” I tell her. “It’s a good alley cause there aren’t many cars and it’s nice and wide.”
“You know Olive, the virus is going to end. It won’t always be this way.”
She watches night clouds gather in the sky. We make a plan for summer.
I’m 2 weeks away from an appointment for the Covid-19 vaccine. I’ll be the last of 7 grandparents in our family circle to be vaccinated. 365 days this week. 9 deaths of loved ones in 16 months. Michael gone now 7 months.
I haven’t worked in 12. I turn 63 in 2 months.
Numbers and charts and graphs dull the urgency of facts after so much time. So much loss unmeasurable.
This spring offers one purpose, to leave the last four seasons behind as we look ahead.
Its possibilities infinite.
READ JAMIE’S MARCH ENEWSLETTER and about the IRELEND PROJECT, coming soon.
A happy lot! Olive’s street scene, drawn while listening to harp music. March, 2021