The sun is rising over Breakey’s Bay.
The moon, not quite ready to give up her kingdom, has been reduced to the fingernail sliver of a crescent that reminds me of the Tunisian flag and cold nights camped on the Sahara, where the muezzin woke me in the pre-dawn darkness and the sounds of an oasis waking rattled the world to life. The bay is a mirrored kaleidoscope of peach and yellow, lavender and princess pink, reflecting the celestial battle for the sky. I’ve watched as the sentinel oaks shook their shadowy cloaks from their shoulders and stretched their green fingertips toward the sky, leaning back almost imperceptibly before swan diving into a sun salute older than morning yoga. The lady of the day is winning, arcing up from the horizon in her fiery flamenco dress and painting a stripe of crimson across the water, from the horizon to the end of my dock. Mornings are breathtaking.
I woke when his presence left the bed.
Not being a night waker, I wondered if he was unwell as the bed cooled and I noticed that the sky was barely steel grey instead of black velvet outside my window. I pulled my rainbow blanket up around my shoulders, pinched my eyes shut and dreamt of Guatemala.
“Half and hour more,” I determined, settling in to rest.
But then, he didn’t come back. I opened one eye, looked at my clock (4:28) and lowered my feet to the cold wood floor.
I found him in the living room (well, it’s actually just one big room, everything that isn’t a bedroom in this cottage) crouched in front of the wood stove, wearing the hat that I knit for him the year we were freezing through half a winter on Cape Cod, and little else. I heard the unmistakeable woosh of his breath as a tiny flame leapt in the darkness and painted his form in a golden glow. I smiled, and crept back to my bed. His skin was chilly when he tried to sneak back to bed, like I wouldn’t notice his absence, and so I lent him mine.
“Thanks for making a fire for me,” I whispered. He knows I get up at five.
“Making Love, Canadian style,” he whispered back, and kissed the top of my head before tumbling back into dreamland. He doesn’t get up until 8.
And so, morning rises on our 14th day in Canada.
We’re beginning to find our feet. We’ve unpacked the little we carry. We’ve filled the house with food and cut flowers. We’ve had friends and family to dinner. I’ve found space in my mornings for yoga (although I greatly miss the bamboo platform and my friends at Del Lago) and we’ve made the acquaintance of the two large bass that swing by at twilight to check on us as we greet the evening with drinks on the dock. It is beginning to feel like home.
And also, I rarely see my children.
Before we’d even arrived on the island Elisha had work. Grammy’s friend had emailed in advance and reserved his services as a gardener. By the end of the first week he was on Claire’s radar and employed at trimming the margins of her yard with garden scissors.
Gabriel hit the ground running, literally. The printer had not been hooked up for fifteen minutes before the boy was printing his resume, pulling his only collared shirt on and firing up the profoundly awful old green van that Gramps has graciously provided him with for the summer.
“I’m going to go ask for work, Mom,” he announced, as he gave me my “Little Mommy” hug goodbye.
Four hours later, he returned, having driven the entire length of the island, all the way out to Horne’s Ferry (to the USA) and back.
“I stopped at every big farm and business. I asked everyone.”
“And did you get something?” I asked.
“Yep. Tom Wroe hired me. I start tomorrow. Full time. He said minimum wage is $11.25, but he doesn’t want to pay me that. I got worried, because I need to make some money this summer” (like his mother, who is footing the rest of the college bill is not aware of this fact). My boy beamed a little, “He want’s to pay me $12.50, and I need to go to town Saturday and buy steel toed boots. It’s the law.”
Tom is an award winning boat builder. For a kid who wants to make his life in the maritime industries, he couldn’t ask for a better job.
I smiled as I chopped carrots, “Well then, you’d better work hard to make yourself worth that money. You’ll be cleaning toilets and sweeping floors for quite a while before Tom let’s you touch a boat, I guess.”
He nodded and set about packing a lunch for the next day. It’s not a bad moment when you realize that your kid might just have what it takes to make his own magic. He’s been working nine hour days ever since.
Hannah is off on her own adventures. She kindly planned to spend the first week on the island with us, “Because you’re going to need help with the unpacking and settling in,” she informed me when she made her plans. As the dust settled after our arrival she folded her life back into her backpack and took off for her seven weeks of summer adventuring with Will.
Which leaves me, most days, with only Ezra. It’s very odd to have only one child lurking around the house. He’s been raking leaves and mowing the yard, two activities which he quite enjoys and is happy to not have to compete with Elisha for the privilege of doing. Yesterday he made a double batch of chocolate chip cookies. He fishes. He rides his bike. He does a little math. He asks me fifty asinine questions until I shush him and remind him that I’m working.
It doesn’t feel, yet, like we’ve made a major turn towards a more stationary life.
Perhaps because I’m neck deep in planning to be away for most of the next three months. Or perhaps because home has always gone with us and it’s never really been about the “where,” so much as the “who”, that’s within our four walls. Perhaps it won’t feel real until we pass the six month mark and we’re still here.
Or, maybe it’s not about the passage of time at all, but what we do with this one day that we’re given, and the ways in which we inhabit the concept of “home” on a moment by moment basis.