saturday drive

The birdbath has iced over several times this fall, thin copper pine needles embedded in its frosty surface. A few dry leaves still cling to branches, quivering in the mild breeze. Although it’s barely forty outside, the sun is warm and inviting and Calvin and I need something to do. We can amble around the house inside and out, go upstairs and downstairs and play with the shutters only so many times before I feel like I’ll go nuts. I help him on with his puffy coat, “stand up by yourself while Mama zips you up,” I tell him, and he obliges without the faintest notion he’ll fall backwards. He’s made some progress, I think.

Outside he beats on the car and tries to mouth it, then grasps the door handle like I’ve taught him how to do. “You want to go for a car ride?” I think I hear him say “uhm.” I load him and Rudy into the car and remove Calvin’s glasses to prevent him from yanking them off sideways then bending and chewing them the way he’s prone to do.

I choose a favorite route past Maquoit Bay where the tide is low and clam diggers are out breaking their backs in the beautiful muck under a powdery blue sky. We pass clusters of prickly shrubs encrusted with bright red berries, the kind I braided with my friend Joanie's grape vines when I made holiday wreathes a few winters ago. There’s a big weeping tree leaden with yellow apples like some kind of golden goose eggs, and a tangled one with fruit the color of ripe persimmons.

A winding road leads us by huge weathered barns and countless stacks of baled hay, some shrink-wrapped in thick white plastic like shining colossal marshmallows. All the while I’m reaching back to bat Calvin’s index finger out of his eye or telling him not to stare at the sun, something he does every chance he can get, no matter how small the sliver of light.

At the crest of a hill I spot my friends standing in the narrow shoulder with their bikes, helmeted up and dressed in the tight, bright regalia of cyclers these days. I don’t want to startle them with a honk so I wave but they don’t see me. I wonder where their kids are, what they’ll be doing this glorious fall weekend.

A mile or so further we approach the farmer’s market. We used to go there every Saturday years ago, before Calvin started having seizures and when he was more willing to walk some. Now he just wilts in the sun or laughs so hysterically in it that he collapses, can’t even stand up on his own. And I still fear the seizures. Honestly, the experience is a bittersweet one. I enjoy seeing the colorful produce, listening to the folky fiddles and guitars, hearing the hubbub that is the marketplace, treating myself to one of Barack’s sweet, crispy almond pastries. But it’s painful, too. All those healthy kids running around, eating cookies, petting dogs, jigging to the music, making new friends, weaving in and out between puttering adults whose hands are free to select pints of cherry tomatoes, discs of pungent goat cheese wrapped in plastic, hard, heavy butternut squash, farm fresh eggs and fragrant loaves of artisanal breads. Their kids help them tote heavy bags of the stuff to their cars, even the little ones do. At times it’s too much to take in, too much revelry, too much “life is good” going on, which is not to say that I don't love my life, but rather, I'd love my life more if Calvin was healthy. And so we sail on by while my boy pokes his eyes, completely oblivious to what he is missing.

As we make a sharp right onto our street, follow its mild curve to the left, Calvin becomes animated. We’re told he can’t see squat without his glasses but somehow he knows we are almost home. It must be the feel of that particular turn at the particular speed we take it, or perhaps it’s the pattern of familiar arching trees that he can make out through the sun-roof. Whatever his method, he knows, and he kicks and squeals the whole way down the street until we pull in to our favorite place in the world, which, of course, is home.

In honor of epilepsy awareness month please share this story with others. Help bring us one step closer to a cure.

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