Wednesday, December 23, 2009

384: beautiful year, april

I start the month fulfilling a promise to Kelly and watch her son for two evenings, one day, and I come away from the experience haggard and uncertain of ever wanting my own children. This solo-parenting is miserable, but I soon realize things change when it is a part of your own growth and change, and not a sudden trial-by-fire, not of my own flesh and blood. A sweet boy, but I know nothing amounts to the love a parent can have for a child, and I'm glad to learn the lesson of sacrifice a little early.

In our first hike of the year, we are surprised by a prairie fire on Barn Bluff. I run up to take photographs as it approaches and find myself a bit caught, getting out of the precarious situation just barely. The dogs and we have soot in our hair, in our nostrils, everywhere It's a beautiful and terrible sight, this renewal before growth.

I'm able to watch the cedar waxwings eat last year's crabapples from our trees. They're small, like cherries, and withered. I take so many shots that floor me, so close to the birds, such a change from years ago when I couldn't capture anything wild. A few days earlier, I found one of the birds on our storm doors to the basement; it must have broken its neck somehow.

Two of us get violently sick: Zephyr, whom we suspect has gotten into the compost, begins this awful shaking that appears neurological in nature. Ryan has to drive him an hour away, a drive where he vomits in the car so much that we have to have it detailed. The vet gives him activated charcoal, which makes him belch like an inked squid.

I'm also sick, the sort that has everything coming out both ends, often at once, humiliated and sweating in the upstairs bathroom. I cannot remember the last time I felt so awful, and looking back, I wonder if H1N1 was rearing its ugly head just yet.

Is this beautiful? This month has been difficult, for certain. The survival is what makes it resonate.

At the end of April, the daffodils rise up out of the loam, their sunny heads bobbing as I pass them on my way to campus. The semester is almost over and though there have been many high points, I'm mostly relieved. After two writing conferences, jury duty, and what will soon be two bouts of the flu, I'm ready to close down the running tally of failures in the classroom and begin again.

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