Karen Rivers

your winter.

Karen Rivers

It's winter.   The tulips are all coming up in the garden.  When we arrive home, The Birdy runs over to them and says, "Oh!"   She bends over close to look.   "I can't believe it!" she says.

Every time.


Of course, the tulips are early and will die with the next hard frost, which is maybe probably going to be tonight.  It's really cold.   I've turned the furnace up higher than ever.   But where is the snow?  It snowed for a week on-and-off, the week I was in hospital and out and it made the whole incident feel festive, like a surreal mash-up of illness and a Christmas arriving too soon.

Is it this confusing every year, with the weather?   No one remembers.   Every year, we are surprised.   "The tulips are coming up!"  we exclaim.    Again and again.    1986.   1997.  2010.  

I took the kids to the beach today and it was warm.   There were other kids there in shorts and lots of buckets and digging in the sand.   We diverted the flow of the rivers of run-off water that pour out of the pipes.   I pretend it's not sewage.   We built tributaries and got wet.   We built dams and they broke.   We dug trenches to the sea.   The sea was the mother, we decided.   The rain water was the child.    The rain water was just going home to its mother.   Obviously.

My own mother grew up a half a block from the beach where we were.   When I was a child, we went often to this beach.  We made the same rivers using the heels of our boots digging into the muck.   We ate cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off.    We sifted the sand through our hands again and again.    I wonder how many grains of sand on this beach I have touched before.   None of them.   All of them.   I have been coming to this beach for my whole life, which, in a way, makes it home.

It was so sunny and warm and the beach is the same as it always has been and always will be and it was disorienting.   It could have been any year.   Any season.    Any point in my life.

My life -- our lives -- are about to change.   For better or for worse, things are changing.   It doesn't have everything to do with our own decisions.    Some things are mandatory.    This is a mandatory life change.   All we can do is hope for the best, and that is what we're doing.   This too shall pass.   That's what I would say if I was feeling wise but I'm not feeling wise right now.    

Maybe this blog isn't for that part of my life.   Maybe it is.   We'll see, won't we?

After a few hours, the sun suddenly dropped behind a bank of clouds, like coming out this early had exhausted it and it went without any fanfare.   It got cold suddenly.   The Birdy was crying because her hands were frozen.   My left foot was numb because of a hole in my boot, which was now full of water that may or may not be sewage.   But The Bun wanted to stay forever.

"Too cold!" I said.

We went home.   The Birdy got excited about the tulips.   The Bun imagined ways to keep them warm.   "We'll build a whole room over them," he explained.  "With a furnace.   We'll wrap them in blankets.   We'll cover them with dirt.   We can save them, Birdy, don't worry.   Can we, Mum?"

"Maybe," I said, meaning "No."