Day 180: the new nubbin

“Mom, do we have any baguette?”

I squint at the plastic wrapper that once contained a baguette, and which now lies limply on the kitchen counter like a snake’s shed skin.

I wrinkle my nose as I pick the bag up gingerly and peer inside.

“There’re just these two little nubbins, and they are rock hard.”

With just two heels of bread swaddled in its flimsy coils, it is hard to tell which is the wrapper’s open end. As I attempt to wrest the stale ends from their casing, they fall out the open end onto the floor.

“Also, they’ve been on the floor,” I add.

“So,” I continue, to sum up, “they are not only stale little nubbins, they are also stale little nubbins that have been on the floor.”

“I’ll take them,” the younger says.

I shrug and hand them over.

“Floor nubbin!” trills the elder, in his best ad jingle voice. “The new nubbin.”

“Now with extra floor!” I add.



Day 118: bunk

Sleepy, sunny, early Sunday. I stretch, yawn, and reach over to give the younger a squeeze.

She turns over and gives me a dark look and a little shove.

“Oh, fine,” I mumble and flip back over onto my other side.

“Morning!” drifts a sleepy voice from the top bunk.

“Morning, sweets! Did you sleep well?”

“Yeah, I dreamed that I found ten dollars on the ground and I went into a bakery and I bought a chocolate croissant and then I ate it.”

“Ooh, that’s a good dream.”

There is silence for a moment.

Then the younger says slowly, “Mom. You ate my croissant.”

I sigh. “Seriously? First of all that was yesterday morning and second of all you said I could eat it.”

“I did not say you could eat it!”

“You did. And third of all there was, like, one bite of croissant left. And I said, ‘can I eat this last piece of croissant?’ and you said, ‘yes.’”

“I did not say ‘yes’!”

The disembodied voice from the top bunk chimes in. “I heard you tell her she could eat it.”

“You did not.” She looks at me. “You’re buying me a croissant.”

“Ummm. No. No, I’m not buying you a croissant.

“But I want my croissant and you ate it!”

“OK. Look. I don’t have croissant. But I have baguette in the freezer that I could warm up in the oven and we could have baguette with butter and jam for breakfast.”

“Ooh, I want baguette with butter and jam,” declares the younger, immediately appeased. “Can you make it, Mom?”

I sigh and stretch luxuriantly in bed. “You know what I love?” I say to no-one in particular. “I love just lying here on a sunny Sunday morning and listening to the birds singing. Just shhhh and listen for a minute. Isn’t it lovely?

About four seconds pass. “Mom, can you make the baguette now?”

“No! We’re listening to the birds singing. Shhhh, listen.” A bird trills outside. “Isn’t that a lovely sound?”

“I hate it,” declares the younger.

“Oh come on!” I protest. “You hate the sound of the birds singing? You do not!”

“Yes I do,” insists the younger, doggedly.

“She does,” adds the disembodied voice from the top bunk. “She hates nature. She’s a polluter and a litterer.”

Now I’m laughing, partly because, at bottom, I strongly identify with the younger’s stated commitment to breakfast and hostility to nature and indeed almost think of it as, for better and worse, an inherited family trait from my father’s side.

“Loves Viennoiseries. Hates nature.”

That would be a good sum up of my Dad’s feelings on the subject. I mean the verb “hate” is inaccurate. Rather it was that my Dad felt that nature was best taken in from a distance, preferably while seated comfortably in a café and with an espresso or, possibly, a Campari and soda, close at hand, depending on the time of day. He very much enjoyed an after dinner stroll, but hiking? No. Camping? Please.

I don’t hate nature. But almost always, when In Nature, I experience nature-appreciation-anxiety, which I think, if it is not already, should be a real psychological disorder added to the next edition of the DSM. [1]

But listening to birdsong drift through the windows while lying in bed? That, I can handle. In fact, that’s exactly my kind of nature appreciation. Especially when chased by strong coffee and warm baguette.



[1] What are the symptoms of this disorder? They include: 1. Excessive worry that one is not Fully Appreciating the Awesomeness of Nature. 2. Feelings of guilt that one is Wishing It Could be Over. 3. Negative evaluations of one’s worth due to Inability to Be in the Moment. 4. Panic regarding possible Insufficiency of Provisions. 5. Obsessive rumination over the logistics of Toileting In Nature. 6. Disproportionate vigilance in anticipation of being imminently bitten, stung, or otherwise attacked by Obviously Hostile Environment. I could go on but these are the fundamental diagnostic criteria.