we're here in philadelphia at my sister claudia's with my extended leslie clan during this july 4th week after a peaceful retreat up on a lake in the adirondacks.
i still retain a special childhood affection for that great swath of primeval upstate new york forests from my suburban dreams of a romantic, pre-american iroquois confederation ('the lust of the mohicans'...), as well as youthful days spent tracking white tail deer in the glades or gunnel-pumping on the dark, quiet lakes in that wilderness. there is a part of each of us, i assume, that carries these youthful geographic origins in our individual souls like eternal touchstones of innocence & utopia...
that last week of june in the adirondacks basically served as a pastoral respite after our ten days of intensive travel & late nights traveling from amsterdam (what leah now calls 'hamster-dam') to the bucolic idyll of lagrasse, france with uptal, caroline, matthew & his boys --including a swift, rollicking side trip to barcelona to enjoy the spirt of the final football championship of la liga -- then back by ryanair from carcassone to charleroi and the slowest midnight trains to our, of course, delayed airbound path from schipolto the states.
en route from nyc to our cabin on friends lake in the adirondacks, we stopped at northfield mount hermon (nmh) for a day to get a feel of joshua's new school and meet some of the folks who will part of his new life. of course, so close to my old digs at smith & amherst, i couldn't resist showing shakun & the kids scott & my ancient apartments at park annex and next door to helen hills hills chapel, as well as stop for lunch at famous fitzwilly's restaurant, scene of a few late night st. patrick day celebrations during our distant college years...
northfield mount hermon sits a few frisbee throws away from the vermont border overlooking that lush new england green of the connnecticut river valley. there had been two campuses, northfield for women & mount hermon for boys -- but they've united the 600 students at the mount hermon campus now leaving, alas, some absolutely exquisite 19th century buildings across the connecticut river. instead they've started to build some new structures, including a modern arts center on the more open spaces of the mount hermon campus. although, if they could pick up a couple of those magnificent polychrome stone edifices at northfield and transport them to mount hermon, the magnificent architectural lineage of the school would be enhanced for more generations to come.
fortunately, josh really liked his feel of the school, even quiet & empty as it was during the summer vacation, while the folks we met who work there were very warm, kind & open. while on campus, we had an hour w/ one of the nmh soccer coaches. the coach couldn't promise josh anything, as they have a couple of all-americans on the team & some strong players coming from outside the states, but he was sure that josh would find a spot on the j-v team, if not the varsity.
the best part was when, in the middle of the conversation about favorite positions, players & tactics, the young nmh coach looked at ezra and asked him who's better he or his brother. w/o missing a beat, ez said, 'he is.' pointing to josh w/ a sweet, brotherly, understanding smile. we felt, by the end, that the coach would have been happy to recurit ezra there on the spot, as well, but neither we (nor he...) were quite ready to sacrifce both our beloved sons to the alter of american higher education & soccer dreams, at least not yet...
yet these dreams have a habit of becoming reality. appearing first as candle-lit thoughts in the quiet of our minds late at night as mental images float in our free consciousness hovering between day & darkness. then, at some odd moment they are verbalized, often spouting like an oxymoron or non-sequitar in a day-dream or erupting at some moment of anger or frustration, like a seed finally brusquely breaking through the topsoil into the light of existence.
our lives are like that, it seems. images of our futures playing like a taste of the occult in our present realities. inspirations or ambitions lurking in the shadows of the today's seeming substantiality preparing themselves (and ourselves...) for their sudden appearance later in the performance.
we know that these children of ours will grow up and leave us. we prepare, as best we can, for such changes. but, we struggle, as well, letting go of what we so profoundly love.
after all, whose life has not been forever changed by having children? these little creatures whose arrival signifies the end of a certain aspect of our own lingering childhoods while permitting us a re-exploration of what childhood actually means, not to mention, a second chance to recreate the joys & simplicity of those fragile, fragrant years.
then, the orb moves, the years turn -- both sides now, as joni sings -- and one finds oneself one summer on a new england private school campus seeing your son's world open in ways both tremulous & tremendous.
he is beginning anew, separating and pushing out from his protective womb in kathmandu, reaching for the dreams that lie within his deep heart's core.
bless him and protect him.