Thursday, April 6, 2017

Little things (inevitably becoming bigger things)

I meant to post as soon as I got back from my recent trip, but immediately came down with an airplane cold (you know the kind I'm talking about - the one where you sit on a plane, listening to someone hacking up a lung two rows behind and caddycorner from you, and think, yep, here it comes, baby!), and have spent the last five days or so in sinus misery.  I can finally breathe through my nose again, and even though my head still feels kind of fuzzy and I frequently lose my train of thought, I figured I'd take my chances and try to compose something that makes sense.

What recent trip, you're probably asking?  Well, I managed to make time to go to Massachusetts to see my older daughter for her final riding competition of the year, and for her birthday.  Unfortunately, we were busy enough that I didn't also make time to see many loved friends and relatives while I was there - but not unfortunately, she and I had a lovely long weekend together, and I enjoyed every minute of it.  I also didn't take work with me; I can't tell you how long that's been.  (So long, in fact, that I kept having to ask her: shouldn't I be doing something right now?  You know, other than eating and sleeping and knitting and reading and visiting?  Something like work?  No, mom, she kept reassuring me - no.)

She is one of the (once-)little things in my life (you know what I mean - not a little thing in my life, but she was once tiny) that is clearly (!!) not so little any more (and again, !!).
That's Tess.  (The girls are now old enough that I decided it was up to them whether I used their names or Older/Younger Daughter, and they have both given me permission to use their names.)  She just turned 19 last week.  That means it's been 19 years since I brought her home, a new mom, the first of my friends to have a child.  I so clearly remember sitting with my friend Leela at the kitchen table, the day after Rick went back to work, staring at Tess in her car seat then looking at each other and going, now what do we do with her?

Well, in spite/because of what we did with/to her, there she is, happily ensconced at college, halfway through the second semester of her sophomore year.  Majoring in Biology (which still comes as a bit of a shock - she was my unstoppable lit/social science person; just goes to show you what an excellent teacher can do to inspire a student, and boy did she have an excellent bio teacher in high school). While she was in class, I grabbed the opportunity to take my new camera for a walk around campus.
 It wasn't warm.  In fact, the lovely innkeepers at the place where we stayed referred to the weather as "raw", a word that I remember my mother using (it's not something you hear often from a Californian) to describe exactly the kind of chill, damp weather we had when I was there.
I found myself, as I often am, unreasonably charmed by the ice, encasing these leaves, and the lower lake. 
(Yes, I did manage to restrain myself from poking the ice with a stick. But only because the trees had already done it for me.)
 As I walked, I found myself near the greenhouse on campus, where I wandered into a fairy tale spring.
I took endless pictures of flowers, which I won't subject you to here.  It was so lush and beautiful, and they were able to grow such a huge range of plants in such a small place.  I wish I enjoyed gardening more, because I certainly love gardens!

And then, as it started to snow, I wandered around campus.  Yes, my daughter apparently attends Hogwarts.

 But our visit wasn't all classes and walks on campus!  There was much time spent with horses.

Including several brutally early mornings spent in astonishingly cold barns (the team riders call MHC's barn The Icebox - the name is well-earned).  Thank goodness horse blankets are warm and available (if you don't mind smelling of horses!).

I also got to see Tess compete with her team.
I never cease to be amazed at her courage and guts.  In these competitions, riders draw their horses by lot, and ride what they get.  Tess, like me, isn't naturally inclined towards public performance or competition, and yet there she is, quite literally getting back up on horses after falling off, getting thrown (last spring, getting a concussion), dealing with good moods, bad moods, squirrelly, calm, whatever she gets, and simultaneously having to think about her equitation.  I know that she didn't do as well in this competition as she'd hoped, but that doesn't change how I feel about her and who she is and what she does.

I'm still getting used to having a daughter who's living on her own, far away from home.  Getting to spend this time with her, in her space, was a real gift.  I mean, I know in my head that she has her own life, but there's something really lovely about getting to actually see her move confidently in a space that she has made her own, getting to meet and spend time with the fabulous, interesting, and funny women whom she's made her friends, seeing how she navigates a world that is entirely hers and never was mine.  This is exactly what we raise our children to do - to go out and be themselves in the world.  But it's not something that's easy to imagine before it actually happens.  And really, it happens again and again at different stages in their lives.  Each step that my girls take into themselves feels new and exciting, and, at the same time, exactly what I expected to have happen.  I found myself deeply touched by how willing she is to open the door and let me in for a while, sharing her time and her place with me.  Rick has business on the east coast at the end of the month, and will get to have his own visit with her (which makes me feel a bit less guilty about our snatched mother/daughter time).

And it wasn't all horses and ice.  I was going to avoid WEBS, because honestly - I need more yarn like I need a hole in my head.  But Tess had finished the project that she started while she was here for the holidays, and (my hand to god - it was her idea, not mine) wanted to go to get yarn for projects to knit in lecture.
That's the lovely scarf (it's HUGE) that she knitted (she offered to knit me one if I got her the yarn, and I was SO tempted, but it turns out I live in, you know, San Diego, and it's already April, so it didn't seem practical).  Of course, once I was there, I succumbed, but!  You'll be impressed - I got one thing, for one project, and I knitted and wore it while I was there.  I'll post FO shots next time, but here's a teaser in the meantime - another small thing that got bigger (those are little mini-skeins of, get this, cashmere; how could I walk away from that?!).

Unfortunately, after all of that loveliness, I came home not only to a cold, but to two missing chickens.  Because that left us with one lone chicken, and because there's nothing sadder in the world than a lonely chicken, three more small things came to join us last week.
 They, too, are (thankfully) getting bigger!


erica said...

Glad you had a good trip! Looks like Tess is doing great. =)

Wanderingcatstudio said...

Sounds like a wonderful trip!
Love those chickens!

Mary Lou said...

Sounds like a perfect trip. "Raw" was something my mother said, too. It fits those kinds of days. I can't imagine competing on a randomly drawn horse. (Well, competing at all, really.) I had a riding instructor who occasionally made us switch horses with one another in mid-lesson. That was a genius stroke of teachable moments. Good luck with the airplane cold. It does seem to happen every time. You should give yourself a little pat on the back for the parenting!

Carol said...

So happy for Tess! Wow - does time go by fast...

Willow said...

I love it when my girls (and boys) let me in to their lives. I'm planning a visit to my older daughter and grandson next week--being part of their lives for 15 days!
And of course, who can resist that cashmere??