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.

March 2011 - Middle Fork Pictures (11)

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.

6 thoughts on “this is not an english garden

  1. I like the effect the long exposure has, on the clouds and water. When I saw this post on my phone, it had a good shot of an iron bridge, that seemed unusually narrow.
    My mom has a lightweight electric chainsaw, that she uses to cut up limbs that break off the old maple trees and sometimes black walnut, in the yard, for firewood. But she’s not seventy, that’s impressive. Does your dad get up very early? I haven’t even eaten dinner by six, most nights.
    I understand the need to think about the effects of constant skyping, etc. but even before the stay-at-home, I’ve been really appreciative that this tech exists, we’re spread out all over the place and can’t alway visit in person. But I know, a parent has to study on this more thoroughly. Poking around tidal pools after a low tide sounds great, man I’d like to get to the shore. This weekend here, it should be red newt season, they’ve been swimming around but now they’re walking in the woods. Have a great weekend, Jason!

    • That iron bridge was my next post but then I lost my inspiration. I wond4r what else I’ve inadvertently shared, lol? Don’t worry, my mom wasn’t using a gas powered biggie chainsaw though I thought making it unclear made it seem a lot funnier, better. My dad has a regular one, he harvests from their woods each winter for heat. My mom was using an electric one like your mom uses but from the sounds of it, it’s one of the heavier duty step-up numbers she’d borrowed it from my brother-in-law (he uses it to take care of ancient willows that are always breaking off in storms, around their yard) so that’s why I was a little alarmed to hear them tell it. I’ve definitely got one of the wimpy ones that uses an extension cord even, haha.Nothing worse to manhood than the cord unplugging in the middle of a big cut- I bought it to take care of some seriously overgrown tree-like laurel that was going to cost a grand to have someone do (versus $40 and a quart of bar oil). Only wrinkle was we had a BIG stack of wood for several years (it was going to be a lot of trips in the car to the dump to deposit for compost). Speaking of my dad, he’s been getting up for years anytime between 2:30 and 4 am to go for seven mile walks down their dirt road, every single day. he’s been realizing it might finally be time to ease up a little so he’s trimming a mile or two occasionally, especially in the wintertime when he’s in the dark with a flashlight. I think in the past, hearing about the boys going on ten mile hikes with me, motivated him a little so he started upping his mileage to see if he could do it.

      Don’t get me wrong, I love it that we have the ability to do video for talking. My mom used to visit constantly, to abnormal levels probably, she’s one of my best friends and we’d fly her to Seattle 4-5 times a year. It’s not the same not having her here but because of FaceTime my boys are still very close to her. Hope you’re having a good weekend. We’re headed out to the beach again, the ebb will be half a foot lower at lunchtime and we have a secret path in the woods most people don’t know about.

  2. Beautiful photo. I love the sense of the water and the clouds moving perpendicular to one another, the trees looming between them, all interacting with the wind in their own ways.

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