We are eating breakfast in the sun room, Ken and I, when we hear the front door slam. Question mark. Did someone just leave? Or come in? No sound after that. I sit and listen for clues. Hannon appears in the door frame. No hello. He simply announces in his 5-year-old voice, "I-want-to-play-with-No-ah." Stacato emphasis on each syllable. Legs planted wide, mismatched socks.
It's cuter than heck, his no-knock entrance into our house, his one blue sock, one white sock, and his no-hesitation proclamation. It makes me laugh, and my heart feels light at the sight.
"Well, I'd like you to play with Noah, Hannon, but unfortunately we have a rule about not letting him play with boys whose socks don't match."
Hannon's brown eyes give me a steady gaze, waiting to see if I'm bluffing. I give him an eye twinkle and he knows I'm kidding. He smiles, walks into the sun room, snuggles up next to Ken on the brown leather couch.
Saturday at Walker Creek Community. Noah, still sleeping at 10:30am, praise the lord. Hannon leads the way up the stairs to wake him. Ten minutes later, another front door open and slam. Joe, Hannon's dad. Needs to help build sets for the play down at Big Lake Elementary. Can Hannon stay here, or does he want to come with Joe? Hannon says he'd like to go, but wants Noah to come with. Joe,that okay with you, I ask? Yup. Alrightie then, quick dress & shove a buttered cinamon raison english muffin in Noah's hand, watch him clamber into the back of Joe's giant red truck.
Baby Katherine nurses and falls asleep in my arms. The next few hours, Ken and I lounge in the sun room and listen to This American Life. Wow it's nice (and entirely rare) to be uninterrupted. I listen with my eyes closed. I hold my sleeping baby who just yesterday Noah sniffed and announced, "She smells like blueberry pie!" She does. This is bliss. I sink deeper into the couch.
The red truck roars back around 3 pm. Someone showed up with cheese pizza at the school, Joe says. They each had a slice. Can you take them for a while now? Yup. No sweat. Noah's already flung his boots off, barefoot stomping and giggling in the garden dirt. "Hey! Not in the garden!" I point them to their Dirt Fort, roll up Noah's pants legs, and off they go. Darn, they are playing with the hose water again, I can hear it spraying full force. "Hey! Turn off that hose, guys." Katie on my hip in the sling, I hump a wheelbarrow over to them and fill it with water. "Have at it, this is your water quota for the day okay." Immediatley they chatter plans for how they will make their mud city.
Teresa wanders over to get the community mower. It's in our front yard from mowing yesterday. "Have you seen one of these before?" she asks, waving her new weeding hoe like a proud flag. We talk weeds, county issues, and walk the community raspberries recently mulched with sawdust. She rides off on the mower full-speed down the driveway, white hair flying, waving her long hoe in the air hooting like a wild rodeo mow-girl.
I catch up with her later in the meadow. Shovel plowing up deep weeds from the edge of her garden in big dirt-sodden clumps. Katherine's getting heavy in the sling. I sit down on a nearby bale of hay, solid and only slightly damp. Baby K sits on the dry cardboard below me, pulling at the grass in front of her. Fist + blade of grass pushes into her mouth. I alternate between monitoring the grass intake and the clumps of grass Teresa's tossing into the wheelbarrow. V wanders up, kisses for T. Wanders off. More fistfulls of grass pulled up by baby K. More clods of earth dug up by Teresa. Joe wanders up. Kid logistics. Sure, we can take Hannon for the night. What's the school thinking to schedule a play showcase at 9:15pm? Sheesh.
Kid report from Joe, too. Hannon and Noah are playing down at the creek. Ken's with them, he's just cracked a beer. Hannon and Noah are splitting a beer, har har.
The college kids from Sherwood are circled in the meadow, bundled in cold sunshine. Their second annual retreat here at Walker Creek, free and sister community, why not. I don't know a single one of them. I do remember being them. Young and just me.
My black boots kick through the wet grass, I walk by them, smiling, baby K leaning towards them from my left hip. Her eyes bright, watching them. The basket of dinner greens I just harvested from the greenhouse bounces against my right hip. Two things I've grown, both held in the crook of my arms. Baby Katherine on one side. Greens on the other. My jean hems soak up the moisture from the grass. Another good day at Walker Creek.