thirty-five degrees

Out of bed and down the stairs to open the old wooden door and take a breath of morning. It is cold. Twenty-nine degrees. Tiny white flakes drift and spiral in the air. It is Spring in Alpena, Michigan.

Our neighborhood is silent, except for our American flag. A heavy-duty, hand-stitched beauty that’s got a peace symbol where stars ought to be. It’s flapping and snapping in the wind gusts, shaking its pole and bracket loose from the middle column of our front porch.

I close the door behind me. Its leaded glass rattles. The icy boards feel good against my bare feet as I lean forward against the railing and take down the flag and pole. The bracket needs fixing, but I’m not sure I’ll get to it today.

There are more important things to do.

I want to make breakfast for me and S.B. Farm fresh eggs that have green shells or brown shells and dreamy, orange yolks. Thick-cut bacon, as crispy as I can get it without setting off the smoke alarm, and wheat toast—the darker, the better with the thinnest coat of butter I can muster. And I just want to sit across the table from her, my person, and eat.

There’s a magazine I subscribed to. Just last night. Tired of headlines left and right, snippets, tweets and posts made by fools, I clicked and committed to 12 weeks of information from sources all over the world. I want to be pushed and pushed, so I don’t ever have a mental comfort zone. If it works, and I feel my brain growing, I’ll renew. Print copies start arriving in two weeks. For now, I do digital.

The first hour of my investment was spent reading and thinking about the rewiring of the financial system. This article confirmed much of what I’ve been researching since 2017. Money is moving as quickly as email. Connections from country to country and currency to currency are being made immediately and without fail. The elderly lady I saw at Meijer yesterday, writing a check out for ten dollars over the amount, doesn’t have a clue about what’s coming. Most of us don’t. But that’s by design. The Internet of Value is zipping along like the Internet of Information did several years ago. But this one has the potential to be more disruptive and more profitable than anything we’ve ever seen. That’s why it’s being kept relatively quiet and why we’re fed a steady diet of distraction.

Spinning headlines.

Celebrities, pandemics, and YouTube shows about reselling shoes.

Political figures to argue about.

Polls, stats, and opinions.  

All of us consumed with hating each other and defending our so-called beliefs, while those with power and money earn and accumulate as much as they can before we do.

I am encouraged to see what today’s reading will bring.

I bet it will help me appreciate the little things.

It’s thirty-two degrees now. If it breaks thirty-five, I want to get my boy playing basketball. I’ll move the car out of the driveway. Reposition the portable hoop. Put on my gloves and listen to my son trash-talk as he dunks and sinks three-pointers from all over our asphalt court. He likes to shout, “Rainbow!” every time he launches a long one. And he takes a lot of long shots. Each of us always wins one game. There’s always a tie-breaker, and I usually let him win. Unless the trash-talking is too much, and I’ve heard enough, “Rainbow!”  

He’s fun, and playing basketball or football or soccer with him reminds me of that. He is all energy and motion and muscle and vision. He just has no motivation. One Tuesday, my little boy woke up and was two inches taller than me. He found a comfortable spot on the couch in the living room, took ownership of the remote control and our TV, and dedicated his life to YouTube, his iPhone, and gathering graham cracker dust in his mustache.

Yes. His mustache.

I don’t let him sit for long, though. As his Dad, it’s my job to get him to get up and get out.

I’ll keep watching the thermometer.  

No matter what the weather, I know that I will be standing in the backyard for an indeterminate amount of time watching my ten-year-old daughter bounce on the trampoline. She’s terrific. There’s no doubt about that. Three years of gymnastics lessons have made her a force to be reckoned with. She’s tiny but mighty. She flips and twists and bends. We even made up a game where I stand with a drink in one hand and a football in the other. She does a front flip. I throw the ball while she’s in midair, and when she lands, the ball is there waiting for her hands. She averages a sixty percent success rate. Each day we do this, she improves.  Some will say this activity has no real-world use, but I beg to differ. She’s learning timing, hand-eye coordination, and mathematics. Oh, and patience. There are plenty of times I tell her, “Hold up a minute. Just jump in place.” And I take a drink.

The other day, we enjoyed our father/daughter time in sprinkles, sleet, then sunshine. She did thirty-three backflips, forty-one front flips, and caught the ball seventy-five percent of the time. Most importantly, she educated me on the importance of accepting the fact that there may be multiple levels and dimensions to the experiences we know as death and the afterlife. I’ll admit it; I had two mixed drinks.

Each day holds many possibilities—all sorts of opportunities. But I can only explore those that are most important in the moment. The older I get, the more selective I am. I will take time to fix things and read. And I will write. But there’s only so much time left with my wife and kids near the 45th parallel.

My boy won’t always want to play HORSE in the driveway with his Dad. He’ll be off enjoying real competition with friends. Making shots I’ll never see. Showing off his skills, his mustache, and a beard.

Eventually, my daughter will wear out the trampoline, my arm, and her patience. There are only so many times you can jump in place, while your Dad looks on, smiling.

And there aren’t unlimited breakfasts with my wife. Dipping toast into dreamy yolks. Drinking coffee. Just us in the morning light.   

And looky here…it is now thirty-five degrees.

~ KJ


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