Monday, May 17, 2010
Seeing my Husband's Reflection in the Bonfire
I sometimes learn more about my husband in his absence than I do when he is right here beside me. Today marks the start of week four that he has been gone, and the connection he and I have seems to be deepening. There is the part that happens to my heart in his absence...I do grow a little fonder, but there is also something else transforming in me.
My husband grew up in Minnesota and I in Colorado. During these months when he has to leave for work, he goes to Colorado, and I stay in Minnesota. I'm glad that I get to experience Minnesota spring and summer, and thrilled that I get to do it through the eyes of our kids.
Weekends are usually the hardest for me. People are huddled with their families and it is too much of an imposition to ask to crowd in at their dinner tables. Often baseball and soccer schedules keep people moving, and since we are in our lull from sports, it gets hard to stay connected to people around here. Not this weekend.
Friday night we spent on our own, but something very Minnesotan happened for us on Saturday. We know the people in our neighborhood much better than in past years...and I must tell you that it seems somewhat dependent upon fire...winter makes it seem like nothing but cars and snow blowers occupy the houses around us, but you can find groups of warmly-clothed folks warming themselves around a fire.
Saturday night, when I had walked one of my son's friends' home, we found ourselves included in the bonfire that was happening among those neighbors.
"Mom! Mom! Can we stay for their bonfire? PLEEAASE?" my kids begged and Big Sprout ran back with his buddies before I could even really make a decision. Bonfires are not something that I grew up doing. I was taught to be terrified of fire and fireworks because even just thinking about those things could start a forest fire. But Minnesota is different. This fire was in a pit in the ground, right in the middle of their back yard, and the adults crowded around it in chairs while the kids ran around playing games.
We left that bonfire party, I put the kids to bed and then I saw one of our cul-de-sac neighbors also stoking a fire. I sneaked over with my glass of wine and sat visiting under the stars. The older kids in the cul-de-sac played kick the can (which the adults had to teach them) and I started to know just a little more about the heart of my husband.
Minnesota is bonfires and boating...fenceless yards and spontaneous community. People work hard and play hard and they have a laid back attitude about who shows up at the party. That is my husband. Informal and inclusive, hard-working but fun too, and learning this without the present-day him around, is like being handed the gift of a marshmellow on a roasting stick.