Wednesday, July 20, 2011

on a day like this

that begins, with the rain…

you lie and feel the sheets, your skin waking.

Then your toes. Your hands. Your eyes, open.

You see your girl, lying just an hand's stretch away. Her eyes flutter, open.

She smiles. Ah.

This is the beginning of the day.

From this moment, I resolve to take note. The whole day, mindfully.

Today, I will drink it in.

The patter of the rain outside
as my girl and I lie in bed and say hello to our morning together.

We talk, and giggle, quietly, so we don't wake my son, who may or may not be sleeping in the room ten steps away.

How nice, we say, the rain is,
and to hear it, here, under these warm blankets and with each other.

My girl asks how clocks work. "'Cause I don't get it," she says.
"What?" I say.

So I wave my arm in slow loops in the dusky light, describing the circle and how time is marked inside it.
I talk about how the day was divided by someone, somewhere, long ago. I talk about 12s and 60s and 5s. I say, quietly, how marvelous the cogs and wheels are, each helping a hand find the hour, the minute, the second.

We talk about watches. Would she like to wear her dad's watch, the one he never wears? Or, it might be nice for her to have her own watch. Hmmmm. We lie there, imagining this.

And move on to a list of all the things she says Yes to.

I list one thing after another after another. And she still wants to hear more. It must make her happy to see herself in such a way. A girl of positives. A girl who has her arms wide open.

We lie, and listen to the rain. A song comes into my head.

Simon and Garfunkle. I start to sing.

"I hear the drizzle of the rain
like a memory it falls
soft and warm, continuing,
tapping on my roof and walls."

My girl wants to hear more. So I sing more.

And then I sing another song, a new song for me that I can't get out of my head. Fleet Foxes. The few words I know, but all the notes. There in our burrow, the notes lift and fall;

they make pictures in my mind.

Breakfast then. I watch the chickens roam across the grass, rain falling on their red heads.
One chicken comes to the door. Pa-cark! Pa-cark! she calls. Where's brekkie, then? Pa-cark!

I read my new book. My gift book. Which is about thankfulness, and about finding the joy. Well, howabout that. She knew, didn't she, the lovely woman who gave me this book, that the words inside would resonate.

The kids both in their beds, reading by lamplight, as the rain falls.

Something pure about the warmth, the steam, the quiet in there. I have that Fleet Foxes song still in my head, and there, underwater, I sing it.

As I dry myself, I note (as I have many times before), the feeling of the towel over my face. It is one of my most favourite, of all time, physical sensations. I feel remade. Fine and clear, each time.

Kids bound downstairs. The day revs up. Time to gobble down breakfast
because our new project begins today!

Sewing workshop. With my neighbour and years-long friend, who just this day, will officially begin her and her son's homeschooling journey. Awesome.

Could there be anything better than striding down our driveway, fresh and perky and bouncety, to start something
unknown and filled with potential
with dear friends
who live just across the road

with the air washed
and the day shining?

We learn about fibres
and fabrics
and the difference between woven and knitted and matted and my friend's son at some point offers us some tea.

He hops up to stand on the kitchen bench, and rummage in the cupboard for teabags.
Hops back down to find the cups and toss the bags in.

He pours the hot water

with such confidence, such joy.

Thank you, I say, for thinking of me.
Thank you, I think, for a drink with such beautiful energy inside it.

My children practice stitches on the sewing machine, and all three children lean forward to see.

One stitch does a swan! Another a flower! This machine contains magic I am sure. Some fairy waving her hands inside.

My hands warm around the cup.
My friend talking.
Us at the table.
Kids in the other room, now, playing lego. Everything

exactly as it should be.

We leave when the Official Homeschool Person arrives to assess my friend's homeschool plans. What a beautiful man he is. Everyone in the community loves him. He remembers my kids, who he met two years ago. I feel fizzy with excitement.

An hour and a half later, I get the text. "Two years!" (The maximum time you can receive for homeschooling before registration is required again). Perfect.

Now. Kettle on. Pasta for my boy. Rice for my girl. I pull out containers, leftovers, bits and bobs and fix a salad. Impressive how high I can pile spinach leaves, cannelini beans, corn, cheese. Each bite just Right. 'Cept for the one that drops onto my new book. Oops.

My kids and I reading at the table, our books beside our plates.

Here, hold this moment. Here, with two hands. Hold it close.

My girl reading out to me from her book about rivers. My son leaning over the newest Septimus Heap story. Me looking up from my book to hear my girl. Her lunch forgotten as she tells me about the Rhine.

And then, we move on.

To my girl reading. My son practicing. Me at the computer, trying to write the kids' homeschool portfolios for my own Official registration.

The kids work on their Space journals. My son drums on the table with his hands. My girl hums. My son bounds over to tell me the names of the moons of Uranus, and I tell him they are characters from Shakepeare's plays, and he tells me those names are in books by Diana Wynne Jones, another of his most favourite writers.

We are a weave, aren't we?
Our learning like ribbons dipping under, over, under, over.

The cat sits right by the heater, with his nose nearly touching. He is like the sunbathers in summer, roasting and toasting themselves.

The dog lies on the carpet (he shouldn't).

The day moves. I write some of the history of the past 2 years—what we have learned in Science alone takes up 5 pages. (I don't need to write so much, but I can't help myself!) How busy we have been. How grand our days.

Now. I drive to my son's music lessons, the kids chattering behind like squirrels.
The rain returns.
My boy leaps out when we get there, to the place he loves. He strides up the hill.

My girl can't stop talking and laughing and telling stories in silly voices.
She is just giddy with joy today.

I tell her how happy she makes me.
I bask in her smile.

At home, we have hot chocolates together
(with marshmallows for her).

I don't do anything but listen to her, as she talks.

She and I finish up something in her space journal. Did you know Neptune is blue because it has so much methane in its atmosphere? Must be all the pigs.

Did you know, Saturn spins completely around every 10 hours?

Did you know, did you know, did you know?

That if you watch closely, each moment as it passes,

the sound of her voice
the words in the book,
the feel of the spoon as you stir the hot chocolate,




On the drive to pick up my son, then home,
the rain falls harder. I focus. Feel my hands on the wheel. Lights glitter between drops.

My daughter says, "I love you more than the stars."
My son says, "I love you more than all the dog's bottoms."

Dinnertime. The children clear the table

smiling, talking, laughing,

as I cook.

And the act of cooking feels lighter, lighter inside me.
It feels less
and it feels more.

After dinner.


Cat is curled in a perfect warm clump in my lap.

Daughter reads on one couch.

Son reads on another.

Kitten is wrapped around a heater.

Dog is on the carpet, again.

Music falls into my ears.

And time


I can see…

on a day like this…



and accepting,

with gratitude and with

your heart

wide open,

lifts you
like a bird rising

—effortlessly, calmly—

into joy.


  1. Beautiful! You have inspired me to look at my day like this!

    I was here, dreading that I had to wake up and go to see a movie that I have seen many times, as have my children, but our homeschool friends have not and they asked us to come. And I love them and am glad for their company...but...I was thinking of all of the other things I could be doing today...

    Now I will embrace that we have friends that want us around and invited us for a movie and lunch...

  2. I love reading your posts, Helena! I love the glimpses into your life, portrayed so beautifully...thank you for sharing your perspective :)

  3. What a delicious post! We're in the middle of a heat wave here, so cool, rainy weather sounds magnificent. What an utterly delightful day!

  4. Such a lovely time I've had here reading this post Helena.
    Thank you for inviting us into your beautiful day.
    I love the concentration and wonderment at the sewing machine :)

  5. I am honestly blown away by most of your posts. How do you do it? How to you capture the day, minute by minute, to make me feel like I am right there. [Oh how I would love to be right there] Septimus Heap we loved! The magic sewing machine would fascinate my girl. Are you reading One Thousand Gifts? Your description of it sounds like it. I love your day. I LOVE your day!

  6. Sigh... I so wish I was feeling the gratitude. I mean, I can feel it right NOW, now that my eldest has gone to a friend's house and the other two are playing quietly with friends in the silence and absence of gunshots and video game monsters. But this oppressive heat and humidity has us all clawing at each other's throats. Maybe this should just become a post on my own blog, yes? Yes. I think So.

  7. Dearest Helena. How I love to come here. And be reminded.

  8. Thank you for taking me along as you sail gracefully through your day. what a joy!

  9. What a gift to be reminded to be mindful. As always, beautifully written, as always, we would love your day too!

  10. What a beautiful day! Your words as usual make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside...and that rain is pouring down outside up here. So nice to be home in front of my nice warm fire. For a few days anyway. :-) Hugs xoxox

  11. Such a beautiful post; thank you for brightening my day!

  12. I love, love, love the gentle meandering days!
    And your prose in this one is just right to remind us all how it's done.
    Thank you.

  13. What a beautiful gorgeous day. How I would love to be a neighbor of yours and be able to share in such joy! And your words are pure poetry, as are your days. Thank you again for sharing your enchanting spirit with all of us!


I love hearing from you! Thank you for your heartfelt, thoughtful responses—they lift me, and give me light.