Sometimes we would get started early in the morning, before the sun was up and the world was quiet, the air still chill, and our parents would put us, pajamaed, into the car and bundle us up with pillows. I got car sick easily but not when it was dark out. I would lie my head on the edge of the window and stare up at the sky, infinite black with twinkling stars, or out of the windshield ahead watching half-hypnotized as the white center line, glowing in the beam of the headlights, zippered itself under the car over and over again.
When we were older, my sister and I would hog the back seat, making a nest for our little brother on the floor. I would lie down with my head in her lap, a little forward across the seat, and she would lie down behind and across me, with her head on my hip. We listened to 8-tracks when we were kids, we knew them all by heart: George Harrison, Anne Murray, Peter Paul & Mary, John Denver. I'd make Dad play The Unicorn Song by the Irish Rovers over and over, and we'd all sing along:
There were green alligators and long-necked geese,
Some humpty-backed camels and some chimpanzees
Some cats and rats and elephants, but sure as you're born
The loveliest of all was the unicorn.
Did you know that was written by Shel Silverstein? He wrote the words AND the music, though it was the Irish Rovers that made it a hit.
The night before a trip, we would go to bed, and I would lie there and listen to my parents getting things ready, coming into my room and then my sister's and then my brother's, pulling clothing out of dressers and closets. Counting up to make sure they had taken enough socks, enough underwear. I would fall asleep, still with that wiggly feeling in my tummy.
Now it is Anders and I who are up late, finishing the packing. Even though I did as much preparation ahead of time as I could, it all always boils down to the last day, waiting for the laundry to be finished, pulling the suitcases down from the attic. Walking quietly into the children's rooms to silently open drawers, open closets, count shirts and pants and tiptoe out again, turning off the light as I go. They're both asleep already, worn out by anticipation or a hard day of play: last bounce on the trampoline, last farewell to friends they won't see for 2 weeks.
Martin and I went for a walk in the beautiful sunshine, but we ended up at the nursery and came home with 3 bags of multi-colored pansies. I didn't think we'd have time for this, but who could resist being outside with flowers on such a beautiful day? Everything I could do was already done, except the waiting for the laundry cycles. Now the pots are planted and the garden beds are cleared. The lungwort is already up and blooming bright pink and purple. A huge fat bumblebee was purring around them, around us as we potted, sounding like a little dynamo. The lupine I transplanted 2 years ago is coming up with its shiny green stars. The plump and pale celadon buds of the stonecrop are bunched above the earth. I need to weed but it will have to wait. It's enough with pansies, for the moment.
It's enough to know that this will be here waiting, in the sunshine, for our return.
Bashy Bushful Birthday Wishes to my Beeg Leetle Seester!