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Dispatches from the solo mothership

September 17, 2009

It’s archery season here in Colorado, which means this mothership has been flying solo for much of the month. The kids and I have been bumping along the turbulent skies alone, watching our radar screens and trying to dodge dangerous threats like: napless afternoons and uncaffeinated mothers. Meanwhile Dan has been sneaking around the La Plata Mountains in camo facepaint, doused in “cow elk estrus scent,” eating peanut butter, cookies and bacon, and trying to get within 15 yards of an elk so he can sink an arrow in its vitals.*

this is what all the big bulls are talking 'bout

this is what all the big bulls are talking 'bout

Now that we’re all cell phone-ified, Dan calls me from Eagle Pass when he’s passing through on the way to his truck to replenish cookie and bacon rations. Last time he called I was drinking a caramel latte at the Triangle Park while Col was scaring other park parents by climbing on top of the tunnel slides, which all of the more reasonable children were sliding through. Rose was turning heads in her own way, using complete sentences and lawyer-like negotiations to convince me to breastfeed her 2 ½ year old self. (Luckily, she still buys it when I point to a park sign and say “honey, I wish I could nurse you here but that sign says no nursing at the park.” Once I pulled that at the library and Col said, thoughtfully and a little concerned, “that’s really strange Mama.”) It was hard to hear Dan’s whispery voice from the top of the world but I believe he was heading back to the truck to take a smoke bath, in hopes of masking his sweaty human scent.

Latte at the park; smoke bath at 12,000 feet. Really, there are more parallels than you’d think. Dan spends much of his midday downtime (when the elk are bedded and their predator-awareness heightened) trying to plot his next move. It’s woodsy calculus; if he plugs in all the right factors (wind direction, distance to camp, angle of the sun, bacon grease in the belly) to the equation, he may come up with this answer: 300 pounds of meat. I too am constantly punching data into the old cranial calculator: length of naptime, hours left until bedtime, playmates available and amount of caffeine propping up my motherly self, to determine what in jehosaphats name to do with the kids next and how much suffering is entailed.

It’s kind of fun at first, playing “pioneer housewife keeps the home fires burning,” (or sometimes, the home-fries burning) while Dan is out stalking mastodons in his loincloth. And unlike my neighbor who doesn’t even like the meat her hunting husband schleps home, making him donate it to the local soup kitchen, I love wild meat. I fully support the endeavor, it’s just that archery season lasts a month in Colorado and the mothership has developed a weird rattle.

There’s a certain simplicity that comes from Despot Mama Rule, rather than the lengthy democratic discussions titled “is it okay for Col to go to preschool in a dress?” which can sap an evening of marital romance. Plus, when Dan comes home from work I’m as bad as the kids in clamoring for a little scrap of his attention. When it’s just me heading up the junior clown team, I can give them more of myself, and in a weird twist, I am freer to simply enjoy them.

the junior clown team

the junior clown team

We built a house yesterday for a snail Col found and when decorating the snail’s abode I didn’t even google “snail food” because I thought just maybe we could rely on our own wits, and besides Col and Rose still believe that information comes from books. At first Col wasn’t sure he wanted to build it a house. “Can’t it just snail around the cabinets?” He asked of his new friend while I shuddered at the thought. But the forager in him prevailed and he marched to the garden picking dandelion leaves, one tomato that I generously sacrificed, hawthorn berries, grass and a few peach leaves for his mollusk-y charge. Then Col put the slop of snail food in a cardboard box, fashioning a heater (clothespin), chimney (pencil) and some very elaborate paper spider traps. He was so mellow and sweet, musing “I bet that snail has a grandma and grandpa somewhere in another shell” and “I think it needs a little book to read,” that I thought it was a fine day to let Col skip his nap.

Of course I paid later, as napless days turn Col into a hamster on methamphetamines who has been pent up in a habitrail under florescent lights for forty years; this is to say he gets a little wacky. And given that his sister is constantly studying to be him, that makes two cracked-out rodents in the house.

* You may be interested to know that Dan makes his own bows. Because success with a compound bow isn’t hard enough, Dan cuts down trees and spends many happy hours in his man-cave rasping and sanding slabs of wood into bows, which gives him just a slight edge over a man running through the forest with a spear.

Let's give the man some love

Let's give the man some love

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. bridge permalink
    September 20, 2009 5:48 am

    smiling here, my girls always climb on top of the tubes at the playground. you are brave to endure a month of keeping the home fires burning, but from what I have seen you rock it sister.

  2. October 2, 2009 5:11 pm

    Loved this one! Keep them coming.

    Chickens are in the neighborhood???

  3. Calamity Jane permalink
    January 18, 2011 3:11 pm

    I told you I was going to be your new stalker. I told you I was going to start at the beginning. My going will be veery slow due to the almost constant presence of a 3 and 1YO. But boy am I excited. All this talk of hunting and roadkill and hippies and brain tans in the background. Chills. And of course you quote Mary Oliver. Seriously why am I just now finding you???
    You started the exact same month and year as I did, which is almost creepy, especially considering you chose the same theme.
    See you around.

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      January 18, 2011 3:36 pm

      Oh dear, just 16 months of archives to wade through. But really, I am honored. Enjoy!

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