Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Sign

I'm zooming down the snowy hill; the icy wind makes my eyes water. My body feels young, loose, and I'm laughing with delight.  I hit a bump, the sled is airborne and I throw my arms out.  I'm flying.

Poke. Poke. 

I peel one eye open and see two big pools of brown.  I ache to close my eyes again, lose myself in the dream.

"How do you spell cwazy fish, Momma?"   Finn is mere inches from my face, holding a Sharpie marker and a tee shirt and looking at me expectantly.

I swing my legs out of bed; after the youthful feeling in my dream the creaking in my middle aged joints surprsies me.

There is a bite to the air this morning, the first tendrils of autum, and I pull a sweatshirt over my head as I pad downstairs.  The kids trail after me like ducklings.

"If Sharpies smell so strong to us, can you imagine how they smell to a dog?"  Greta says; she is fully dressed for school already.  Her fear of missing the bus looms large over each morning; she is ready to go at 7:30, even though the bus doesn't arrive until 8:45.

"Or a fly? Flies and dogs have a sense of smell that's like a thousand times greater than ours."

Bleary eyed, I pour milk into two bowls of cereal while the kids orbit around me like little planets.  Their non-stop chatter tugs at my half-awake brain.

"How do you spell Rhododendren?" Greta wants to know, holding a notebook she made of pressed leaves. She is meticulously labeling each page.

"I'm not wearing undahweah," says Finn, "and the dog had anothah accident in the playwoom." 

"Hon? Can you pick up my shirts?" my husband pokes his head into the room, shaving cream covers half his face.  "By 9:30?"

"What about Dandelion? How do you spell that? And Hydrangea?"

"Dis is my cwazy fish!" Finn chirps proudly from the kitchen table. My brain finally registers that he is drawing on the tee shirt with the Sharpie.

"It's 8:25, Momma!  We need to get out for the bus soon!"

With a flurry the kids shrug on backpacks, tie shoes, and jostle out to the end of the driveway to wait for the bus. It won't come for at least ten minutes, but Greta needs to be out there by 8:30 or she panics. 

The sun peeks through the early morning fog, and I turn my face up to soak in its warmth.   The kids spin and laugh, whacking each other with their backpacks.  Inside the house the dog barks insistently, like she does every morning, unhappy that she is left out of the fun.

I smile to myself, lost in thought. Each morning is a carbon copy of the last, and for some reason today this thought comforts me. 

An unfamiliar blue pick-up truck pulls up at the end of our driveway, and the kids turn and look at me with wide eyes.

A stocky woman clambors out of the truck, wielding some kind of large tool.  

"I'm here to put up your sign!" she calls.  "How about right here?"

As she hammers the For Sale sign into our front yard, my stomach gives a flip-flop of nervous anticipation. 

Change, I think, as the warm embrace of familiarity drops away.


This post is part of a link-up called Just Write, the brain-child of Heather at the Extraordinary Ordinary.  We're free writing about moments in a day, describing snippets of time, without clarifying or explaining what we want to speak about in the post.  We're just writing about an experience - pure and simple - finding the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Just Write

Want to participate?  Click here to learn more and here join in.


  1. Nice little twist at the end there Ellie. Every morning is the same around here, too. And I loved your phrase "the first tendrils of autumn" - I lingered on it as a matter of fact. Just lovely! I hope that you sell quickly, and fall in love with your new home with millions of ordinary morning moments.


  2. "I'm not wearing undahweah," says Finn, "and the dog had anothah accident in the playwoom."

    Ah yes...motherhood. This made me laugh out loud and take a sharp breath at the end.

  3. My stomach did a flip-flop along with yours. I don't like change and I had gotten nice and comfortable in your little snippet of life. Thanks for sharing it.

  4. Oh my God. Youth and familiarity and change. change is always the clincher. You never expect it until it arrives. I'm feeling change today too. Oh Ellie. I can hear the mallet on the sign.

  5. I was picturing my own kitchen in the morning when you wrote about the kids orbiting like little planets. Such a perfect image and I just like that sentence SO MUCH.

    So, you're moving? ;)

  6. 8:45? I'm so jealous. School starts at 7:50 here, and Husband takes the kids at 7:20.

    I could just see all the activity happening in your kitchen.

  7. Mmmm.... change. Not my favorite word. Hang in there sweetie!

  8. I hadn't thought of the sameness of each day as being something that comforts me, but it totally is especially since there's been so much change recently in our house.

    I'm going to hold onto that and really seek out these ordinary routines and look at them as little gifts.

    And on a side note...8:45! We start at 7:45. 8:45 seems much more manageable. :)

  9. Wow. Can't believe you free-wrote this. Fantastic!

  10. Oh Ellie- your kids voices, the dream, the sharpie {good lord the sharpie!}, the carbon copy-ness of it all and then- not. This is wonderful. Truly.

  11. (This is my first time visiting your blog. I came across it through Heather's prompt.)
    Wow, you sure do know how to capture a moment! You are a talented writer, and I feel privileged be able to get a little glimpse into your stories.

  12. Wow. You really captured the idea that the hardest part about change is the loss of comfort that we get from routines. Even dull, annoying routines are comforting. Beautifully written!