Ruth Krauss Back Road Chalkie
At around 7AM came the short but sweet email from our son Carson —
"Hi Mom and Dad,
Layla Rosemary Arnold, born July 9th at 11pm, 7 pounds, 4 ounces. She's really beautiful and has a full head of dark hair. Jocelyn was a warrior and pushed for over 6 hours. No drugs or hospital involved. Pretty astonishing. We're exhausted and incredibly excited she's with us finally.
You're officially Grandparents.
Thinking of you and hope to see you.
So I said to Sweetheart, "Let's find some stuff and be one of the first to hold this little baby." She was game, naturally. Eyes bright. Around the house I found a painted egg I was always fond of, plus a beaded bracelet, and Sweetheart took down one of Carson's favored stuffed animals (giraffe) and passing a delicious pie shop on the way to their house (less than an hour away), we chose the blueberry pie with heavenly crust, which went into a white box and the only touch missing was a string wrapped around the box. They still could have, but they didn't; it's one more of those little missing qualities of life. We arrived at weary Carson's house at 10AM and hugged him outside the front door on the tiny porch.
Upstairs Jocelyn after those six hours hard labor was tuckered out and Layla Rosemary Arnold had the vibrant red coloring of a newborn exactly 11 hours old. We were the first on the scene. After she passed the disturbance of oxygen, air bubbles? her natural color returned, with her lovely lips and quite large feet and resting snugged against Jocelyn's heart with a half-filled mason jar of water at her bedside, we all visited. Carson likewise tuckered out in a red Sun Ra T-shirt, shorts, two days beard, barefoot, tiny room, floor fan blowing, upstairs old New England shotgun house by a river and a roadway going way too fast, council was made.
Downstairs, letting Jocelyn and Layla rest deeper, we broke into the pie with Carson and joked like the three former band members we once were together, not quite parents, and not quite our child, but buddies from all the years we train-traveled, cross-country-rode, bussed, hardwork at home in the woods, footloose family. . . and laughed over all the recent rocky times. I love, adore, protect, swoon, abide and pleasure sink into anyone I can have a relationship with like this. Carson was all smiles and that old trust he once had with us was in full evidence of ribbing and quickly galvanizing over deep waters that anyone knows must never be taken all that seriously. It's love that must be taken seriously. So we loved the pie, and we loved our son; saving over half the pie for the next visitors.
We stayed about three hours. Could hear the baby cry.
Then we headed to three towns and did a bunch of ruined-for-the-day-in-a-bliss errands new grandparents do — like groceries, bookshop sale hunting, saw a very elder Vermont friend in a parking lot and tugged on her sweater sleeve (humidity at 89%!) and shared with her the news, and she beamed like a sea lion! we then went off and ate some good junk food (salad, fries and a large Coke, all shared between us), climbed to the summit of Sugarloaf and no one was up there post thunderstorm humid and jungle licked and explosively green, with that forever breeze on its stone faced eastern side, where the peregrines and buzzards sail, then somewhere on the road home shared a caramel sundae. What in the world!? All in celebration of a granddaughter. Now we have to climb the mountain again! And one day with that little girl.
It suddenly dawned on us, hours & hours later, talking aloud, rain on the windshield — why in the world did this fine birthing center in New Hampshire where Layla was born at 11PM, allow this young couple to drive an hour long home the murky dark countryside at 2AM, exhausted and exhilarated at once. . .couldn't they have bedded them down there until daylight, then proceeded home? It's a question new grandparents fuss over.
And furthermore, just think — a year ago this summer we had a witch-hunt taking up against us on our road by a select some — and this year a new baby is born into the life. People, hang onto your hats! Life can flip and change and wiggle through your fingers. Let it.
Rode home along the river. No one on it except a lonesome traveler with Texas plates and a passenger with thin arm tattoos and a haunting southwest long glare stare. Driving and curious that I was looking into western-eyed, I stared back. My sort of kinda hombre. That doesn't always work.
Now home in the thick of rain forest and mud mist river evening shaking down.
[ BA ]
Back Road Chalkie "Ruth Krauss"
some photos © Bob Arnold