“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
I was in a funk this morning, so I started looking for Six Impossible Things to Believe Before Breakfast. It wasn’t difficult. It only took me about a half an hour:
- Sunday night, I woke up and glanced at the clock. It was 2:22. I remember laughing and rolling over to go back to sleep. Monday night, I woke up and looked at the clock. It was 3:33! I thought, “Oh, mysteries of life” and fell back to sleep. I woke up again and immediately looked at the clock. It was 4:40 and all I could think was, “Dangit! Four more minutes and I would have nailed it!”
2. As we backed out of the driveway and turned up the hill, I stopped the car and said, “Carlos, look! Two deer!” Two small does stopped at the corner of Miss Sarah’s yard to look at us with their ears perked up. We didn’t appear too threatening–just another clunky metal purring thing with heavy round feet. They tiptoed across the road and into Mrs. Hodgson’s azaleas. Carlos whispered, “deer!”
3. When I got back home after dropping him off at school, I stepped out on the deck. There’s a sourwood tree out there that I tried to cut down many years ago. My saw was too small and my arms too weak, so I gave up on it. Now, the sourwood tree grows up and over the deck, giving us shade from the heat, a perch for chickadees, and brilliant red leaves in the fall. As I admired the leaves, I remembered–leaves don’t “turn” colors in the fall. The colors that we see now have always been there, but the green chlorophyll that the plants need to make fuel overpowers the color during the spring and summer. When the year turns to the months of rest, the chlorophyll dies away and we can see the colors that have been there all along.
4. Then my eye fell down to a row of shells that we found on our vacation this year. Oysters, whelks, conchs. As they bleach in the sun, all those plain grayish shells start to show their colors too. Pink and brown, orange and cream. From the bottom of the sea to right here on my deck. Then I remembered that half of my state used to be at the bottom of the ocean a long time ago. And the water in that river that runs through the backyard is the same water, recycled from the ancient ocean, the Mississippi, the Ganges, the Jordan, the Nile. Nothing is so far away after all.
5. I went back inside to load the dishwasher. And who do I spy outside the kitchen window? It’s another writing spider. This one is much smaller and browner–the male of the species. If all the pretty yellow girls are “Charlotte,” I decide he will be named “Charlemagne.” Welcome, spinner, to our space. When I stepped back outside to get a better look at him, the dewdrops made his web sparkle in the gray morning haze.
6. Time to make breakfast. I stirred together some oatmeal and milk, then added a dash of salt. I diced up a Honeycrisp apple to throw in before cooking it. I put a sliver of that apple in mouth and the flavor was so perfectly what I wanted at that moment, that my first thought was, “I don’t care if they cost $5 a pound. I’m going to buy these every week until they’re gone. This is why I went to graduate school–to afford these apples.”
Six impossible things before breakfast. Impossibly sweet, impossibly strange, impossibly magical.
I sat down on the couch and booted up my notebook computer while my oatmeal cooled. In a house built of bricks in 1961, on a hill that was carved by that river over a few million years, under an impossibly blue October sky from which leaves of red and orange fall with a whisper, I tapped my finger to a glass screen and connected myself to every other part of the world. I saw Catie standing in a field of orange marigolds in Bhutan, the cinnamon rolls that Beth’s daughter had made in France, and Lucy’s brand new baby down in Dublin.
It’s ALL impossible yet so precious and close. And here we are, right in the middle of it.