on being five

My dear Littler Prince,

How is it possible that you are already five?  It doesn’t seem like that could be.  How has it been five years already?

It’s funny, though, at the same time I also want to ask, how has it only been five years?  The way you keep up with your older brother, not just in games but in the way you talk and interact with everyone in your life, it seems like you are so much older sometimes.  How has it only been five years?  How are you doing all the things you are doing?

I can still picture you as a newborn, your hair red and wild, and that look that said, “Get ready world, I’m coming for you.”  The world wasn’t ready for you then and it still isn’t.  Your energy and your passion and your determination and your curiosity are going to take you far.  That’s indisputable.

It leads to clashes now and then, of course, when your strong will runs into your older brothers strong will, or mine, or the Queens.  That’s okay.  When that happens, we aren’t trying to keep you from following your passions, we’re just trying to manage the day or keep you safe, or other boring but essential adulating things.  And, the good news is that as you continue to grow and learn the clashes will get fewer and father between.

So, another year gone?  It wasn’t filled with as many big adventures as our years usually are.  Soon, we may start embarking on those again, but for now we contented ourselves with smaller adventures closer to home.  You took the training wheels off your bike this year.  You took an interest in words this year, asking how to spell things, creating words of your own, really playing with language.  You sat at your older brother’s elbow for most of his schooling too.  (That’s all the curiosity mentioned above coming in.)  There were hikes and local, but new to us, camping trips.  There were water balloon fights in the summer.  There were puddle stomping sessions.  There were Lego building marathons.  There was so much squeezed in that one year that it wouldn’t be possible to capture it all here.  I hope you’ve got some good memories that you’ll hang onto for years and years. 

I know I do. 

And, I know I’m curious what the year ahead has in store for you.  It’s going to be another busy one.  Every day an adventure in its own right.

And, no, the world still won’t be ready for you, but that’s okay.  You’re going to shape it how it needs to be anyway.

Can’t wait.

Love you.

Love,

Daddy/Matticus/The Jester

saying goodbye

Last week I said goodbye to a friend.  He was more than a friend, though, he was family.  Our families adopted each other.  The Queen and I had him in our wedding, introducing him as my adopted grandpa…

It has taken me some time to find the words I wanted to share.  So what follows may be a jumbled mess and while I know that is okay, for moments such as these I wish I could come up with the “right” words and I wish I could come up with them faster.  I sat silently and listened as others shared stories about this amazing man.  Maybe what follows is what I would have said if I’d had these words faster, if I’d been braver.  I doubt it, though.  I couldn’t even type them without spilling tears.  There’s no way I could speak them out loud.

…..

He called me Matt the Cat.  I’m not sure there was more to it than he liked the way it sounded.  I never asked him.  And now it is too late.

We adopted him, in our fashion, and made him part of our adventures.  He went camping with us a couple times.  He always said it was an honor to be included.  We wouldn’t have had it any other way and wished he could have made it more often.  He was like a kid in those mountains.  His eyes full of wonder and joy.  Then again, his eyes were always full of joy. Joy was who he was, how he approached life, how he treated everyone.

He played the harmonica.  He could make it sing.  He could make it whistle like a train picking up speed and getting closer and closer.  The Little Prince used to love that.

He was good with the two older princes.  Patient.  Attentive.  He wanted to hear their stories and watch them run.  The newest prince hadn’t met him.  And now it is too late.

As the Queen and I began our winter pilgrimages to the snow with our littles in tow, we would stop at his house on our way to the mountains and share stories and pictures, stretch our legs, visit.  We always felt bad invading his home with our chaos.  I’m certain he didn’t mind.  I wish we could have stopped more often than we did.  I wish we could have stayed longer each time too.  You could hear it in his voice, that buzzing excitement, each time we knocked on his door.  You could see it in his eyes, sparkling with that joy he exuded.  And now we’ve made our last stop.  It hurts to say that.

I’ll miss him.  I’ll miss his joy.

a state on fire

We walked through the burn scar, happy to see new life peeking through the soil, green in a landscape of ash grey, while breathing the smoke from a new fire raging to the south.  Seeing the remnants of a dead fire while breathing the proof of a live one.  It was eerie and sad.  I took video while we walked, to capture the moment as best as I could.  Though, that only really gets the image of it.  Not the smell.  Not the desolation.  Not the death in the air.

Still, there was life at our feet.  Tiny flowers and little green shoots sprouted along the trail.  And in the haze we could see other such life pushing through the ash.  It was encouraging to see that.  Despite the destruction, all was not lost.  Despite the raging inferno that had scarred the terrain a year earlier (nearly to the day), life was returning and, in some cases, had never left. 

Little did we know then what our day had in store. 

From one fire to another, we travelled homeward, the smoke constant and the charred hillsides popping up again and again.

I’m not entirely sure where I’m going with this.

When I conceived the idea for the post on our drive home (we had been backpacking near Shaver Lake), it seemed to mean something.  All this damage.  All these fires.  I came home and looked up the names of each of them.  There were nine active and old fires that we either drove through, walked through, or saw the smoke from.  And if we saw the smoke it meant we were breathing it.  But now a month later when I’m finally get around to writing this?  That number would be thirteen instead of nine.  Four more fires started along the same corridor in the last four weeks.  One per week.  But, what does it mean?

Well, I don’t know.

Maybe it is enough to have been there and to share these words now and raise the question:  What does it mean?

Maybe these words are nothing more than a diary entry of sorts.  I went.  I saw.  There was devastation.  There was beauty.  And somehow that is right.  That is life.

Maybe this is nothing more than my mind trying to reconcile the memories from my youth when I was fascinated by fire while at the same time calculating the cost currently.  The forests that have burned now will not have grown back to what they were in my lifetime, nor in my children’s lifetime.  Anything that is lost now they will never get to experience.  These forests take too long to grow back.  They can’t just be instantly replaced like so much else in our lives.

Maybe it’s all of the above.

I don’t know.

On Being One, Third Time’s The Charm

My dear Littlest Prince,

You’re One!  One year old.  One full trip around the sun.  And what an amazing year it has been!

You’ve learned to sit up and crawl and walk.  And jibber jabber.  Oh man have you learned how to jibber jabber.

The Queen and I aren’t entirely sure how we wound up with three boys who never ever ever stop talking.  But, here we are.  You probably picked up it up from your big brothers.  You never stop watching them.  Some of my favorite moments have been watching you watch your big brother while he in turn is watching his big brother.  All of you learning from the original prince.

Oh, what a marvelous adventure this thing called life is.  You are learning that already.  You go exploring and, yes, you accomplish a large amount of that by shoving stuff in your mouth: rocks, sticks, shoes, food occasionally, more rocks, sand, toys…  That’s all normal.  Well, maybe not the shoe thing, but I won’t judge.  Some people are into shoes.

You also love to pick up things and carry them around or throw them.  You grab what you want, toddle around for a minute and then chuck it.  Feet and ankles beware!  You’ve got quite the throwing arm already.  And often we have to go exploring to find where you’ve hidden things: mustard bottles in the cookie sheet cupboard, shoes in with the dried cranberries, toys under the oven.  Well, actually, the toys are kind of everywhere.  That isn’t all your doing though.  Three boys and two cats…  The toys are everywhere.

So it goes.  So it is.  Everything as it should be.

What a year.  All that screaming from when you were first born, so much louder than your brothers, so much more inconsolable than they ever were too, seems so distant already.  I haven’t forgotten.  I’m not sure I ever will.  But, the sharp edges have already worn off.  You still scream of course and, often, the loudest.  But, it isn’t as bad.  I’m sure that will continue to improve and one day we’ll look back and be able to sigh with a smile over the hard early days of your life.

In the meantime, you keep doing you.  Smile.  Laugh.  Cry.  Learn.  Grow.  Blow those kisses and wave to the passing cars.  Watch those big brothers and rush to keep up with them.  I’d tell you to slow down and take your time but I don’t really think that’s an option.  You already want to be where they are.  I can’t see that ever changing.  I hope it doesn’t.

I love you, my Littlest Prince!

Love,

Daddy

Matticus

The Jester