Friday, May 14, 2010

Tulips and spiders.

Yesterday, Opal dined on a two-course meal of pureed sweet potato and avocado, a meal that was clearly more interesting to me than it was to her. She did a new thing where she watched the orange and sea-foam colored pudding on the tip of the spoon travel all the way to her lips, which were pursed and closed, as she strained her baby-crossed eyes to maintain focus. She then went to reach for it, dipping her tiny fingers in up to the dimpled knuckles and flicked all her fingers from the thumb, one of her newest and dearest skills.

Then, just as I was about to give up on this unsuccessful session of eating, Opal's attention clearly settled into something else; she discovered that there were two tulips in a wine bottle sitting on the table in front of her. Her face took on an expression of utter enchantment.

So I took a moment to look, too.

The tulips were from the precious family of bulbs that'd been planted in our yard the first autumn we lived in this house, two and a half years ago. They were the same size when I cut and put them in water (with a lucky penny at the bottom) and in the matter of a few days one grew tall and wide, with a telephone chord for a stem and petals of crimson-painted silk, thick and ironed. Nothing drooping. Perfect posture. The other one wilted, its weary stem not quite strong enough to hold up the confused tousle of shrunken petals, its stamens indecently exposed.

The tulips made me think of siblings who grow up in the very same household with the very same parents and the very same childhood into two stark different adults. I thought of twins in utero, how one often somehow soaks up nourishment a bit more readily than the other. I thought of my own breasts, how different the experience of breastfeeding was for the left (struggled, bled, incredibly painful) than the right (champion, over-producer of milk, piece-of-cake) and even now, how different they appear (the right one is much much bigger). I thought of luck and karma, the seeming randomness of opportunity as well as the seeming randomness of failure. All this, each of these thoughts, entered only through the portal provided by my dear daughter.

She does this.

Developmentally still unable to multi-task, she lingers on one thing at a time. In the midst of breast feeding, she'll notice as the light hits my zipper and her top lip stiffens as if she's witnessed a miracle and her eyes flex with micro-lens focus as she reaches for it. The words "easily-distracted" are inaccurate and even a bit crude. She is amazed and allows herself to travel to and from the objects of amazement and hang out there as long as necessary because there is nothing else to do. Nowhere else to be. There is plenty of time for such studies. And why the hell would I ask her to rush? The passage of time is such a drastically different beast for her.

So, when the moment allows, she walks me through my own, well-established world with the eyes of a traveller having set foot on uncharted territory. Notebook drawn, video-camera charged, camera cocked and loaded, she breathes life into details I have become blind to. Star gazing in my own kitchen and living room.

We spent some time analyzing the creeping vine today and I noticed it has some yellowing leaves and spindly spots.
During a contemplation of the ceiling light fixture, I observed it's drastic need to be dusted, and as we looked, a tiny spider parachuted its way through the air, backed with the safety-line of its own web. Then, as if it saw us and reconsidered, it speedily made its way back up to the ledge as Opal and I just watched.
I wondered if I would have completely missed this detail had she not been nearby, instigating this kind of attention. I wondered how many spiders have dropped in front of me in my lifetime that I was completely oblivious to.

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