On being present.

You’ve walked alone in the snow for nearly two hours this morning with your camera bag slung over your shoulder but you haven’t even made a single shot, though it doesn’t matter because you are just being right now, just listening to the swish of your snow pants with every step and just watching the dense downward drift of the snowflakes that look like a bazillion tiny white stars, and when you stop moving there’s only silence so you tip your face to the whiteness of the sky and close your eyes and concentrate on the snowflakes coming to an end on your skin, the feathery tickles as they pool in freezing droplets on your cheeks and your chin and your glasses… so, in honour of your kids, and indeed of childhood itself, you open your mouth wide and catch the falling snowflakes with your tongue and you don’t even care if you look ridiculous, there’s no one here to see in any case; only the trees and they really don’t seem to mind, and then you finally pull out the camera and make the only photo of the day as you stand among the stoic trunks of the conifers, an unremarkable picture except for the fact that when you look at it you’re reminded that you are very small and the world is very big, that there is beauty in silence and solitude and in the crisp, cold taste of a bazillion falling stars.

Tree canopy (1 of 1)

You never know what to egg-spect.

With all the excitement about eggs this weekend – both the hard-boiled and chocolate variety – I thought about a connection to this week’s WordPress photo challenge of Surprise.

April 16 (1 of 1)

While colouring our Easter eggs today (a family experiment involving melted crayon shavings, stained placemats, and parchment paper accidentally set aflame…and which resulted in eggs that looked a bit like someone either threw up or bled on them), conversation drifted to the question of why eggs are symbols of Easter and of spring.

We talked a bit about the purpose of an egg, and the ideas of birth and renewal. All the egg/life/birth talk was enough to trigger memories of my own experiences – both physical and emotional – acting as the ‘egg’: carrying my kids during my pregnancies (which were, for me, mostly easy) and the ‘hatching’ events, so to speak (which were, for me, mostly not easy).

When a woman is ‘expecting,’ not much is certain. Sure, we’re expecting the arrival of a human, as opposed to a toad or a tomato, and science has given us the option of learning the baby’s sex, and sometimes the knowledge of the presence of certain medical issues. But beyond that, who this tiny person will become is a combination of factors including circumstances, choices, and the good old DNA lottery. We have only limited control of where this story is headed. We don’t really know what we’re in for, do we?

As they stood there at the kitchen table sharpening crayons and dipping eggs into cups of dye, I looked at these two similar but unique human beings that had exited my body not that long ago. And I experienced a flash of wonder that this is where we’ve ended up. It was complicated – a feeling of intense gratitude that we were all standing in the same room, safe and healthy and loved. A conflicted sense of both longing and relief for the days and years behind us, and of curiousity and hope for the days and years ahead of us. But it was also a feeling of acute irritation because they kept spilling crayon shavings all over the floor.

Then that moment was gone, and we were on to the next. And the next, and the next. Later moments included an attack of the giggles while I tried to make proper photos of our basket of splotchy Easter eggs.

Welcome, spring. We’ll try to be ready for what comes next, but in the meantime, we’ll try to pay better attention to what is now.