• One Minnesota Writer


The Tuesday Night Dinner Project

Spring thawing has begun as snow is transformed to rushing water that rivers its way down both sides of our street. Birds greet us in dusky daylight-savings-time mornings, full of song and familial urgency. Newness is everywhere, from the rediscovered grass peeking from the edges of melting snow to the new floor beneath my stockinged feet.

There is room now for movement. Gone are the bone-chilling sub-zero days when we despised leaving the house. I welcome back these mornings when I can take Camille somewhere, get her chubby toddler legs working. This week, it was the shopping mall because I’d promised her dresses for spring. Like her mama, she loves dresses, loves the way a skirt twirls around her legs and the air moves on her skin. I think she feels less restricted somehow, unlike the way I felt wearing dresses when I was little. My dresses didn’t move quite the same way, kept me knees-together in church pews and school desks. 

Camille is clear about what she likes. Much as she has been allowed and encouraged to choose what she likes without regard for gender, she was certain that she wanted a pink dress. She chose one with polka dots. And pink shoes, a pair with Cinderella tastefully displayed near the heel and just a hint of sparkle. I told her I had promised her two dresses, so she chose another with a little girl holding flowers on the front of the bodice and a green skirt made of a filmy tutu-esque material. (Netting? Tulle? My knowledge of filmy dress material is seriously limited.) 

The Cinderella was incidental, I think. Camille didn’t see her on the shoes right away because she looked at the pink shimmery toes first and immediately declared, “I want those.” I showed her a bunch of other shoes, but she kept going back to the same ones. And so it was decided.

Camille was happy with her dresses, her shoes, her shopping trip with Grams. We came home to a lunch of bananas and milk, a story, a nap. The nap was not met with glee and negotiating became necessary. Bribery involving an after-nap viewing of Sesame Street if she went willingly versus crying and absolutely no chance of Sesame Street in that case settled the issue.

And then it was my time. For a little while, anyway, until the floor guy arrived to install the last of the trim for our new hardwood floors and there was one more little round of nail gun and compressor noise. As Curt, the floor guy, finished his work I thought, please, don’t let anything else break or need replacing around here for a very long time. I became very clear that I am done having other people work in my house. Done, I tell you.

What I am ready for is to throw open the windows, grill dinner outside, fill the bird feeders, turn the compost. I am ready to fill my suitcase, visit friends, celebrate this year’s milestones. We have one wedding to attend in April, one graduation party so far in June. Our daughter is leaving this Friday for a student trip to Newcastle, Edinburgh, and Glasgow to study architectural design. We are all feeling antsy. 

Still, spring must unfold in its own time. To rush it would be to miss the details, the breaking open of buds that gradually become something more substantial. With my family gathered around the dinner table last night, we all noticed the way the light lingered longer. We all turned to look at the color of the sunset. And we all expressed our excitement for the days to come. 

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