this is not an english garden
My mom was resting at the kitchen table with a tall, cold glass of water, when I called. She’d been outside performing various mildly hazardous deeds around her yard with the chainsaw. My dad wisely put it on the picnic table for her and left it at that (for the sake of not being patronizing, I didn’t kid around). She sounded confused when she answered the phone because it wasn’t a FaceTime. We hardly ever just talk the regular way on the phone, anymore. Mom and Dad really like to see us, fisheyed and big-faced. After isolating with my seven month old nephew for eight weeks, they’re dizzy with new freedom. They did a stupendous job, I still can’t believe they made it that long. But why am I surprised? They raised six children basically all at once without somehow going cuckoo-nuckoo. Still, they’re in their seventies. My mom has a pacemaker. Dad goes to bed at six o’clock at night. He helped a lot these past eight weeks but most of the credit goes to my mom.
The boys and I FaceTimed them two, sometimes even three times a day the past couple months, for moral support. Oliver Fern spearheaded early-morning calls (we live three time zones away from each other). He and my mom have no problem yakking like a couple of hens, sometimes for an hour. My little nephew smiles bright as the moon when he sees me on the screen. I’ve worried, what are the unforeseen neurological, cognitive consequences for children raised on all these FaceTimes and Skypes? What ways could these effects manifest themselves over time? Maybe there are no effects, I dunno. Is it just part of human evolution? Do I exist to my nephew more than the one-dimensional page in his favorite board-book? Probably not, I grieve to admit. I’m glad the boys didn’t have smart phones or tablets thrust into their faces when they were toddlers, that would have been really hard for me. We have our own set of challenges, like teaching the boys still-evolving courtesies and etiquette for the age of video conferencing.
This frame is a long exposure not too far from home, it’s the first place I want to take the boys after two months of going pretty much nowhere. It’s just a quiet walk on an old logging road, we may run into a few mountain bikers, that’s all. Next week it’ll finally be time, I think. Tomorrow morning’s for a walk someplace on the Sound, there’s gonna be a great minus tide. We’ll get squirted by some geoducks.