Monday, October 4, 2010

Fields of Gold

Here's the reality--tons of writers romanticize everything. It's part of the job description. I don't place myself under their banner yet, but I hope to one day. Until I achieve something a little loftier than winning a local writing contest at the age of ten, and being published in poetry anthologies for which the published must pay, I'm still an apprentice.

I think I'm learning the ropes pretty well. I know that the topic of baking cookies with Micah is acceptable reading material, but no one really cares about the pile of dishes left in the sink afterward. Everyone likes a nice blog about the joys of summer when the season first begins, but no one wants to read about a Louisiana August, in which all of the vegetation has been obliterated by the cruel sun, in which the triple digit heat index overstays its welcome, and how the simplest tasks, even indoors, make you wonder if the shower was even worth it. If Summer had overextended its visit for one day longer, I would have rebelled. I felt so bullied by that triple digit heat index that I came "this close" to exchanging romanticism for---squeal!---realism. I would have pummeled you like a hungover John Steinbeck. Thankfully for you all, while I was involved in Curtains, something magical happened--Sir Summer surrendered to the gentler climate and richer palette of Fair Fall.

Autumn's entrance in the South is rarely distinct or official. She drifts in with a sense of serenity, and an undercurrent of humility. She has no need to announce herself. Why should she? We all know when she walks into the room. Her presence is obvious, breathtaking. She is a little frustrating in that she ambles in and out, bullied around by Sir Summer who can't seem to relinquish his rights to the year. It's no wonder that I'm not sure exactly when she was ushered in by cooler breezes and that dank, smoky smell the fallen leaves take on, but she's here now. Hopefully, she will prop up her feet, and stay awhile. I'm sorry I missed the moment the doors between one season and another flew open, but I was distracted by other good things.

Although Curtains was the dominate activity for the past 8 weeks, I was also busy with mothering, wifery, housekeeping and teaching. I know that you don't care about dirty toddler diapers, mildew growing in the shower, or that I was making dinners around the same time I made lunch every day, so I thought I would limit myself to the highlights.

I will begin with my new music discovery--Mumford and Sons. This British group creates a genius combination of folk, bluegrass, rock and piercing lyrics. I couldn't decide which song I liked best, so I thought I would share one that is pretty iconic of their work, which you can listen to on the playlist provided below if you are at a computer with speakers and no workplace firewall to block your fun.


I began teaching piano and voice lessons the last week of August, and managed to hang on by my fingernails as Curtains entered into technical rehearsals, then performances. It's always amazing to me how children grow, mature and develop over the short course of a summer. The little girls I taught last year are looking more like little women, and students who couldn't sit still for half an hour last spring are doing brilliantly in hour long lessons this fall. Brandon and I also began teaching Sunday School again at Crossroads. We are glad to be back with our class from last year, just one year older, a few inches taller and a few vocabulary words wiser!

During the weeks I was involved with the show, I worked on Micah's baby book in my precious spare time. I used Shutterfly.com to upload my images, design my book and publish it. They did a beautiful job, and I'm very pleased with the product! Shutterfly photo books are user friendly, quick, painless and reasonably priced. It provides the perfect approach to documenting memories at this time in my life. What mom doesn't like fast, cheap and awesome?

The front cover


My letter to Micah and first photo

Probably my favorite page

Back cover
One Saturday, I came home from either a rehearsal or a performance--I forget because it all runs together in my mind--to find our living space painted and redecorated . . . man's man style. You may remember the battle of wills that waged until I chose to give in, realizing that I never give in, even to the person I claim to love. I will admit that although it isn't to my taste, that it isn't the nightmare I had imagined, either. Several people have really liked it. Everyone else has found some level of appreciation for it. I just have to ignore the creep factor of having the heads of dead animals protruding from my walls. (Too much realism for you? Me, too.)


How am I doing? I'm . . . coping.

I think that pretty much says it all.



Sandwiched in between the two weekend runs of Curtains were two very important events--my first time conducting a choir in 2 years and Brandon's 31st birthday. I conducted a joint choir, which included members from Crossroads in Ruston, Christ Community Church and John Knox Presbyterian Church, for the World Communion Sunday service at John Knox. It worked out surprisingly well, but I'm not sure how much of the success can be attributed to me. I was so nervous that I was freezing for the entire service, convulsing with nervous chills and uncontrollable nervous yawning until the song was complete. I also began the piece too fast. Fortunately, the organist was very good, and followed me right into a slower tempo.

Brandon turned 31 on September 21st. His birthday was on a Tuesday. He worked all day long, and just wanted to come home and relax. He had also been working really hard for the past 4 months so I could get some stage time. Almost every day, he would come home from work, pick up Micah from the grandparent on duty, feed him dinner, bathe him, and put him to bed. That is a lot to put on a guy whose job entails holding human life in his hands on a daily basis. So, I wanted to make the evening special for him.

I cooked one of his favorite dinners . . .
went to great lengths to bake him a real, glutenous,
highly-poisonous-to-myself birthday cake . . .

bought him a video game, allowing him to unwind by mass murdering the villains . . .

and made sure he was rewarded by lots of birthday kisses,
both captured and not captured on camera.

This tightly packed bushel of events hit me line a ton of bricks. Until my third 10 hour night of sleep, I was asking questions like, "Where am I?," "What am I supposed to be doing?," "What's my name again?" because I have been so TIRED after all that has gone on. On the other hand, I had been feeling like I had missed out on quite enough Micah time. So . . . for the past few days, I have aligned my schedule with his, and basked in the sunshine, the crisp air and the glow of his tiny soul.

I remember heading outside with him the first day we were able to share alone. I wanted to etch the happiness of the moment in my memory. I knew the only way I could do it was if I provided a soundtrack to our outdoor play. I brought out my Ipod, strapped it on (no headphones, just a light buzz from the small speakers), and selected the only song that made sense to me in that moment. The breeze blew into our faces gently. Golden rays peeked down at us from the tree tops, dancing in and around Micah's curls. The smell of autumn wafted from the woods to the tips of our noses, and just like that, those precious, slow moments with my son were forever burned into my memory with the help of Eva Cassidy's "Fields of Gold." What a perfect soundtrack to that hour . . . Micah felicitously discovering the world around him, teaching me how to once again marvel at the various sizes and shapes of sticks, the indigo vastness of the sky, and the joy of holding a katydid in the palm of my hand. His squeals of delight and his baby songs of contentment are sealed in my mind and heart. I remember sighing with pleasure as I drank in creation, watching him toddle about the yard and knowing that I was living in those fields of gold.

Welcome, Fair Fall, and all of your lovely fields.

I have worn a million hats thus far this fall, but the MOM hat? It fits just right.
"Peek-a-boo, Mama!"


And I didn't even tell you that I soured three loads of laundry this week by forgetting they were in the washer. How's that for romanticism?

Where am I, again? What am I supposed to be doing?


6 comments:

Joel said...

Melissa,

Lovely, as always. I think I might need you to write about the changing seasons every quarter from now on. It's one of my favorite things about them changing.

MelissaKeaster said...

Joel--Haha! That's funny. For someone who claims to not like change, I REALLY get into the changing seasons. My favorite is usually the one that's brand new or the one just around the corner. But there's just something about Fall . . .

roberson707 said...

Beautiful! Just what I needed to read today!

Amber said...

Love this. Really.

Morgan Jolly Tucker said...

Wow, what a writer you are!!!!! I enjoy reading your stuff. Love you

Debbie K said...

Love it! Great pics of my favorite little red head. I am so proud of you.....God has blessed you with such talent....You make me laugh and cry all at the same time! Love you!