Wednesday, January 28, 2009

John Updike, RIP

She had on a kind of dirty-pink - - beige maybe, I don't know -- bathing suit with a little nubble all over it and, what got me, the straps were down. They were off her shoulders looped loose around the cool tops of her arms, and I guess as a result the suit had slipped a little on her, so all around the top of the cloth there was this shining rim. If it hadn't been there you wouldn't have known there could have been anything whiter than those shoulders. With the straps pushed off, there was nothing between the top of the suit and the top of her head except just her, this clean bare plane of the top of her chest down from the shoulder bones like a dented sheet of metal tilted in the light. I mean, it was more than pretty. (from A&P)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Real Winter

I've been told that the Inuit have 7 words for snow. Icelanders have a word for a volcano that erupts beneath a glacier and causes a flood once the glacier wall gives way (hlaup). I wonder if those cultures have a word for real winter. This winter is the real deal. Granted, we've had many bluebird, days, but we have had lots of snow -- the banks of snow at the end of my driveway are up to my shoulder. We've also had lots of cold: 30 F feels downright balmy.

I'm not complaining. I actually like the extreme weather (not like tornadoes or Cat 5 hurricanes) but cold and snow in the winter, and heat in the summer fascinate me. They change how we interact with our world, how we function and take us out of life's everyday sameness. If you think about it, life between 35 F and 80 F is very pleasant, very easy to deal with. When you start to creep up on the high end or dip below the low end, things start to get tougher, more interesting, a bit less comfortable. Couple temps beyond this range with precipitation, humidity (or lack thereof in winter) and we are forced to adjust, and compensate even more.

Unsettled, harsher weather reminds us that we dwell in a sometimes tough place, and that despite heating and air conditioning we are still subject to nature's vagaries when we leave our cocoons. I'm looking forward to spring (who doesn't?) but I enjoy what is happening now, and permit real winter to remind me where I am, and what I am.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Traveling With Kids

Last weekend Mrs. Agricola and I packed up the family and schlepped to Logan International Airport to fly to Houston to visit my brother and his family for the Christening of his youngest daughter. Three kids all 5 and under, on a 4.5 hour flight can be a bit daunting, I must confess, and we approach flying with some trepidation. That said, we do fly fairly regularly for a family. My oldest, Child One, has been on many a flight with multiple trips to Chicago, Tampa/St. Pete and now a pair of flights into Bush International. Her brother, Child Two, has been twice to each of these places as well (if my counting is correct).

DVDs on the Mac Book help to pass the time and keep little people occupied. I'd never get a DVD player in my car (like the trip to Cape Cod requires video-sedation . . . ) but on a four-plus-hour flight, it's a Godsend. The thing that helped me more than anything else, however, was seeing the utter joy and excitement that my little ones (at least the mobile and speaking C1 & C2) demonstrated when they saw planes on the tarmac outside of the terminal.

At that moment they knew were in for something cool: flying in a big jet, way up high in the sky to go see their cool aunt, uncle and cousins. The wonder of it all pumped them and me up. I remember being a kid and being so excited to get on a plane. Those days are long gone, but having kids of my own helps me to recapture some of that wonder and remove some of the drudgery that is modern air travel.

Sunday, January 04, 2009