03 May 2009

Umbrella.

Being holed up inside the house like a termite for days upon days is never good for anyone, especially when you’re coming off a bad head cold and really need to see something (any thing) besides a box of tissues. But we’ve had endless rain since almost the precise moment I started to feel better. I am tempted, at this point, to take a cue from my friend Alison, bundle Eli up in his sunshine yellow rain slicker, shake his rubber boots free of slugs, and venture out in search of suitable puddles for sloshing. We may just do that this afternoon.

Until then we have windows, and as I look around out there, it’s almost as if I live in a slightly less quaint, less cobblestoned, Irish countryside. The fog is thick on the hills, a canopy over the verdant landscape popping out with every make of tree, frond, weed, and leaf imaginable. It’s almost like a rainforest, and I half expect to see a toucan or some sort of exotic monkey perched from above, instead of the wide-winged hawks that usually hover overhead when the sky is visible.

It would almost be dreary if it weren’t so beautiful, the contrast of thick milky mist and brand new twists of fresh green life springing forth.

Beauty aside, we are weary of being indoors, Eli with his train set on the coffee table, me with my shopping list as I scour the internet for intriguing recipes. While we long to go out, the ants are seeking refuge from the flood, squeezing in through narrow cracks around the kitchen windows and marching in diligent formation toward the breadbox.

My friend Katy wrote an entry about a rainy day, curled up in pajamas with a book and a perfect little snack. It reminded me that a day like this, even if it seems, at first, to be an annoying repeat of the past four you’ve had, can be full of sweetness and warmth if you know where to look.

Before Jeremy left for work today, I made us lunch. I thought we needed something semi-gourmet but comforting at the same time. A can of Campbell’s condensed tomato soup would hardly do, and we were down to the last heel of bread. I ventured out beyond the rainforest and returned home with ingredients for one of our favorite now-extinct sandwiches. We used to order it at JJ’s Market, back when we were dating, before the place was sold to less ambitious cooks. I replicated the recipe in our kitchen as best I could:

Slice a croissant lengthwise and open flat. Layer with very thinly-sliced green apple, narrow strips of rotisserie chicken (JJs got their chicken from a Japanese restaurant across the street so I had to make do), thin wedges of creamy havarti cheese (I was supposed to use Brie, but close enough), and a few squirts of grainy honey mustard. Place it under the broiler for a minute or two until the cheese is oozy, and wa-la! A perfect sandwich for a rainy day.

We ate at the small kitchen table while Eli nibbled on leftover apple wedges and bits of cheese since I’d already fed him lunch. The dog paced the floor, looking for remnants.

Once J had rolled down the gravel drive to go, the two of us waving to him as raindrops splashed our palms, it was time to flee for the covers. I filled Eli’s favorite sippy cup and piled a soft extra blanket in his crib. He didn’t protest naptime as much as usual, and I can hear him in there now, chirping away with his plush-filled friends, singing little songs. I love witnessing his imagination from beyond closed doors, where I can only hear him laughing to himself and to make-believe companions, conjuring simple stories and engaging his mind to wonder and believe in things far beyond what he can see. This is some sort of early practice in having a bit of faith, I think. It’s also the reason I’m okay with Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy and don’t get hung up on the notion that I’m telling my child a lie. I don’t know who I’d be today without having learned to hold tightly to the end of that string as my imagination pulled me every which way and beyond. [I had kind of a bookish, stringent phase in my faith years ago, and while the knowledge was good, helpful, even formative, I felt a little heart-deflated after awhile. It seemed less like love and more like geometry. And I was terrible at geometry.]

I digress.

I’m in my favorite rainy afternoon spot: our cozy grey half-done bedroom. I pulled a curtain to conceal the un-renovated portion and to make this feel more like a cocoon. On the bedside table, there’s a sample-size grapefruit and hyacinth candle that I won at Alice’s baby shower for coming in second in a game of Name That Tune. I haven’t burned it yet, but I leave the little tin lid off so the citrus-scented wax fills my quadrant of the room. Lately I’ve been finding it the best, most comforting smell in the world so I am hesitant to light the wick and send it burning into nothingness. This may sound odd, but actually, these days, I really cannot get enough of grapefruit in any form. I buy, at minimum, two fruits a week and slice them open in the morning, eagerly scooping out their bittersweet coral flesh with a demitasse spoon and drinking the yummy juice left in the rind. I must be Vitamin C deficient following the sinus cold.

It’s 4 pm now, and the prospect of him actually sleeping seems iffy. He’s chattering away contentedly and a bit softer though, so I might read awhile to see if he drifts off. Currently, I am reading two books at once, which for me is a never-do. One is a classic, kind of ragged and heartwarming and innocent. The other is scarcely a literary masterwork but it’s keeping me amused and maybe even mildly, if somewhat shallowly, inspired. Also, Nora Ephron is making a movie out of it (with Meryl Streep no less) so how awful can it be? Depending on my mood, I flip between the two books. For the past several days with all the rain, I’ve concentrated more on the latter; I can’t really take ragged and heartwarming when there are so many clouds surrounding my house.

As luck would have it, we’re being forced to get out of here soon, sickness/rain or not. It’s almost vacation time and I’m grateful. First, a trip to Texas for my mom’s dinners-to-knock-your-socks-off, and to pick up some of my father’s things. Which reminds me. During the ceaseless rain of Friday’s entirety, I took a long nap and had a sweet little dream that I was with my dad in his backyard. He looked good and healthy, and we just talked about nothing in particular except that I was glad he was alive and that the backyard looked really nice. Funny as it sounds, I love these dreams, simple as they are, because it’s the closest I can come (insert imagination) to spending time with him in real life.

I woke up kind of happy and sad mixed together. Eli had just woken up too, so I scooped him up and said, "I just had the nicest dream about your grandfather." He looked at me with his big brown sleepy eyes, and said, “Can we go see him now?” Being hazy from such a deep rest, I burst into sporadic tears, but not in a way that scared him. He just continued on talking about apple juice and trucks, and chirping affectionately at Gottie--his beloved stuffed lamb. I held him in my lap as tightly as I could and pushed my face into his soft brown hair that smelled ever so faintly of grapefruit.

7 comments:

jenni said...

Your writing is out of this world. That sandwich sounds AMAZING. Have you tried grapefruit drizzled with honey? I haven't, but I saw it on a blog recently. You'd love my grapefruit dish soap, by the way. And may I drive out to meet you for coffee when you're at your Mom's?
(or you're always welcome to our house)

That dream of your Dad is so sweet, a gift.

Thesupermanns said...

you are delightful...bringing us into your rainy day.. ...love it.

Christine said...

Seriously beautiful Kierst. That was my favorite sandwich at JJ's too, sigh. I love how you write about Eli, I can sense through your writing that he has such a tender heart.

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