Turning Some Corner

By , July 22, 2011

If you’re reading Mary Oliver’s Twelve Moons as a lunar calendar with me this year, it’s the last quarter moon in my time zone, possibly tomorrow in yours. Time to read Dreams.

This is one of the first Mary Oliver poems I ever read. It’s included in her New and Selected Poems, Volume One (check your local independent bookstore). Someone I care about very much brought it to my attention, although I don’t remember who; possibly my sister-in-law, Anke. I do remember that we were both touched by the last lines:

I think they became healthy as animals, and rich
as their dreams
Before they turned some corner and became
Two graves under the leaves.

Melancholy, thought-provoking, and beautiful, like much of Oliver’s work.

Perhaps, for me, more so on this day than others. It’s July 22nd. My little girl becomes a woman today.

Aly is now 18. We got her back from her field school just in time to celebrate this milestone. It’ll be a scattered celebration at best. Michelle and I have been so concerned with limiting gifts to exactly what she wants and needs, particularly for college, and we’ve been so focused on the day we’d get her back from Canada, that we haven’t done much about gifts. Michelle is filling in for a coworker at her part-time summer job, so she’ll be gone most of the day.

There is one significantly milestone-like gift on the way: we just ordered Aly her own phone, something she’s been reluctant to acquire as yet. Now that it’s coming, she’s admitting to a little excitement about it.

But tonight we’ll celebrate in our best homestead way, with a fine, home cooked meal. Aly’s request for her birthday dinner is bumbleweed pesto. She has yet to nail down a choice of cakes, but she and I will bake that this afternoon. We’ll have “microbrew” root beer for and a nice bottle of wine for her parents (who, after all, deserve a little celebration on this day, too, particularly her mother!). I’ll slip a disc of her favorite music on the stereo as we sit down. Simple, not too elegant, but very happy.

It’s hard to believe she’s turned the corner between childhood and adulthood, minority and majority. I, of course, reserve the right to be called “daddy,” and to think of her as my little girl. But, watching her on the homestead, working the digs in Canada, and interacting with her friends, I can’t deny it: she’s a woman now.


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