I can remember my mother, every New Year's Day, sitting down at the kitchen table with two calendars--the old dog-eared, scribbled-on one and the bright neat new one--and transferring family members' and friends' birthdays from the one to the other. Facebook and the like have made that ritual obsolete for me, but after talking with my husband about how we should have planted spinach in late summer so we'd have some to harvest over the winter (and before figuring out that actually, I think I did plant spinach and there should be some out there...yeah, the winter garden is a bit out of sight out of mind, I'm afraid) I spent some time yesterday making little notes in my calendar to remind me to do some of the things that I have a tendency to do too late, too late. When to start our tomato seeds, plant the peas, start the paperwhite bulbs, that kind of thing. This kind of arbitrary deadline that doesn't actually have to be met has never worked very well for me in the past, but hope springs eternal, right? And there's a certain pleasure, or comfort at least, in writing things down.
On Saturday night, driving home from my brother-in-law's house, there was a conversation with the girl that began with her announcing from the back seat, "Mom, I'm not going to die for a long time, like until I'm fifteen, because my body has a lot of growing up to do first." (I informed her that it would surely be more like a hundred and fifteen, and thankfully she seemed to accept that.) Then we moved on through her explanation of the concept of "a brillion: that's a number I just made up. It's how many stars there are in the sky" and wound up with her falling fast asleep three blocks from home. The whole time we were talking I was holding my breath, trying to remember every bit of what she was saying, wishing I had a tape recorder so that I could transcribe it all exactly and correctly later. There's some comfort in writing even these small pieces down, of course, but what I didn't realize at the time is that what caught my breath was not only the need to hold on to the words of the conversation but also the wonder at the hundred years, the brillion things, that might come next.