welcome to three

partial layout

Due dates are elusive…and that goes not just for babies, but for births of all kinds, projects included.  Well over a year and a half ago — late January 2011, to be exact — we found ourselves twiddling our thumbs in what seemed like endless anticipation of having an official moving date for our big venture out West.  With all the bureaucracy associated with both buying and selling, we were at what seemed like an interminable standstill.  Not knowing the timing of big things (like a cross-country move) can make some personalities (ahem) go a little crazy.  What does one do when one can’t control (or speed up) the timing of major life changes? Well, one makes a quilt, of course.  I remember vividly, during that excruciatingly endless period of waiting, some thoughtful friends of mine encouraged me to engage in big projects to take my mind off of what I couldn’t control.  So, I got out my brightest scraps of fabric and started cutting.

cut strips

Now, I’m a big believer in preparation — getting ready, psychologically and physically — for not only what is going to happen, but also what you want to happen.  Around the same time that we were anxiously awaiting a green light for our move to Portland, some very good friends were deep in the process of trying to get pregnant.  Trying, that is, and not succeeding.  As I anxiously twiddled my thumbs, obsessing over my own problems, I thought of them, of how long it had already been that they had been hoping for a pregnancy, and how badly I wished I could do something to help.  And thus, my mindless fabric cutting became something else entirely.  I remember thinking, there’s not much I can do besides hope hope hope for these lovely people, but in the act of hoping, I can prepare a welcome gift…perhaps even summons a baby with some handmade love.

layed out

Usually I do things the other way around — I receive pregnancy news from someone special and I happily trot into my sewing space and commence the process of creating a welcome quilt.  This ritual has become one of my most treasured.  For this child — the very spark of whom was already so wanted, so beloved in the hearts of these lovely friends and a whole community of people surrounding them — well, we needed to pull out the big dogs and work every angle we could.  I put as much love into that quilt as I could muster, hoping someone out there would get the message and work some conceiving magic into the Brooklyn air.

The project at hand worked wonders for my restless spirit.  I worked away on it, loving the simple design, feeling cheered by the bright colors during a very grey January, and enjoying how meaningful it already felt.  Someday, I knew it, this quilt would have a baby sitting on it.

Of course, a week or so after I started the quilt we received our green light to move, so I packed it up, in its unfinished state, and hauled it cross-country with the rest of our belongings, unearthing it months later, still unfinished…still no pregnancy.

Months passed, I worried.  I finished the quilt back, sent the whole thing out for quilting, got it back, and tacked on the binding.  All it needed was a label…and a recipient.

And then, pregnancy news broke.

label

finished quiltupclose flipback

No one moved during those early months, and then 2 months turned to 5 to 7 and then to 8 and a half and with bated breath, the insular world of these fine friends quietly waited as he made his appearance about a week ago, in perfect health, a sweet little being.

The best things in life truly are worth waiting for.  And hoping for, and praying for, and summonsing in every which way we can possibly imagine.

Oh, welcome, welcome to three, my dear dear friends.

porch

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making tracks

Our little family doesn’t have any New Year’s traditions.  Eve or Day.  (gasp!)  That’s right — every year we just wing it.  I think we have some fun, but I’ll be honest, I can’t remember.  It occurred to me this year that I can’t remember a single New Year’s Eve or Day in the last, hmmm, 10?  (and that’s not because we teetotal over here.)  I wouldn’t call that “broken” necessarily…but I do think it needs some fixing.

It’s a funny thing to be thinking about creating rituals and starting traditions when our lives are in such a state of flux — the very landscape of our daily life is going to change so drastically with our impending move, and much of our day-to-day right now involves a whole lot of waiting to jump.   The inevitable stress of being in a seemingly endless holding pattern, as we are with this move, is enough to make me want to throw all traditions to the wind and just order take-out.  When I stop to truly consider it, though, it occurs to me that rhythms and rituals — even those so simple as homemade oatmeal in the morning — are perhaps more important now than ever.  Now is when our wayward emotions could use some anchoring.  Now, with so much up in the air, is when the grounding phrase, “on New Year’s we always ________” sounds most appealing.

So, as the New Year weekend rolled ever closer last week, I had some fun pondering a simple New Year’s tradition we could start and take with us — something we could do no matter where we were, and no matter how many of our toys (re: musical instruments and kitchen equipment) were packed up in a box.  After some careful thought, I decided…we’ll begin the year outside.

And unto us, a tradition is born.  Off we went in the cold, windy chill, bundled head to toe, to the beach.  And I tell you, it being a cold cold winter day and the 3 of us nearly the only people out there, and the winds strong enough to almost blow over this little 1-year-old — it was wonderful. 

It was chilly, indeed.  We were silly enough to bring sand toys, but all Orlis wanted to do was charge towards those birds with a tenderness that matched their own trembling and charge towards the sea, with a ferociousness that matched the enormity of the waves.  And all we could do was stand and follow and marvel at this young child, impenetrable to cold, as he grew about a year in that one hour.  We marveled as he ushered in the new year as naturally as the wind and the waves and the birds did — welcoming the wildness of the elements; letting the wind whip all around him; falling as many times as he took a step.  Awestruck, we could do nothing but follow suit.

So there we were, welcoming the New Year like three clumsy, sacred fools, toting sand toys and talking to birds and filling our shoes with sand.  And at one moment, I caught this glimpse of Orlis with his own long shadow — a shadow 4 times his height — like a flash-forward of his inevitable growth into manhood to come, and I remembered how very short life is.  That image of his shadow ….of who we all grow into without even noticing it …has stayed with me for days now, lulling me to sleep at night and visiting me as I sweep the floor.

The elements are fierce on a cold, winter New Year’s Day.  Thin-skinned and coddled-by-creature-comforts as we are these days, like any other modern human being, I welcome it.  My New Year’s intentions could use a dose of reality.

Spending some of New Year’s Day outside — someplace wild?  That’s a doable tradition, I’d say.  Some hot chocolate to follow?  Yes, that too.

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