Perched above Ballard, seconds before descent, the panorama spread before me: low-laying clouds bursting with rain, almost leafless trees bracing themselves in the cold, drabby browns, tired greens, buildings and streets, everything, mostly gray. On this early Sunday morning drive, alone, a split second thought flew past, ‘Look for color’.
As my eyes left the broader view, the stop light punched through my consciousness with a brilliant red. Almost as quickly, the yellow of a few remaining leaves quivered their luminescence as I drove past. The trees lining Ballard Avenue kept cozy with lichen sweaters of the faintest green, a mere sheen of a shade, but still standing out among the unkempt warehouse spaces they accompanied. My own very red umbrella now bobbing as I walked, brought color to shop window reflections. Ahead of me, the familiar orange, red, and purple flags signaled the entrance to the market, a wonderland of greens, reds, purples, whites, browns, oranges, and more. I took my place in line, waiting in the rain for the market to open.
The tall umbrella’d man behind me was there for a turkey and some eggs. He and his petite purple-booted wife tag teamed, keeping their rain-slickered child, bright with yellow, busy if he wanted to be. The woman in front of me, maybe half my age, slightly embarrassed at the enormity of her black and white golf umbrella, introduced herself to me. Caught off guard at her out stretched hand ready to shake my gloved one, more than slightly embarrassed to not remember her name, I will call her Julie.
Julie and I talked about hosting holiday dinners, hosting brunches to test out new holiday recipes, what meats we buy from Eiko. She asked me where I worked. I replied from some cobwebby nook in my frontal lobe, ‘I’m just a mom’. A split second later I corrected my statement, at the very same moment Julie was beginning to correct me as well. My line companion had a kindness about her. My un-effaced stumble led to a chat about mothering. I told her about my 9-year-old son, and about how he was happy. That our goal was to raise a happy human who would hopefully grow up and make other people happy. Julie said she and her boyfriend had recently discussed someday having kids. She expressed dismay that no voices in her generation spoke of raising children as a viable lifestyle for a woman. I took a small leap and told her about The Continuum Concept, a book I’ve recently read, and a book I wish I had read 25 years ago. The Continuum Concept tells of Jean Liedloff‘s study of the Yequana Indians of South America during the late 60s, early 70s, a people who still lived within the evolutionary continuum set in motion by the earliest humans. The focus of her study was to discover why these people seemed happy, happy in the face of little technology, few material goods, and days of seemingly unending physical labor. Her conclusions speak clearly on the vital role of mothering and caregiving, and suggest adaption for our current non-continuum culture.
The line moved quickly after that. Julie held my space while I got my burger, and she pulled bacon for me while I held her spot. We parted ways, she repeating the book’s title, me off to find carrots and kale. I don’t know if she’ll find the book, or if she’ll read it. It doesn’t matter. What does matter? We connected. We had a little conversation that ended up touching something important to her, reflecting something important to me that I, a feminist mom, chose to speak to from my experience. I hope the best for Julie and her dreams. Even though I most likely will never see her again, Julie’s handshake, her lovely face while speaking, her kindness toward me were a gift. A morning made richer by that fleeting thought of color, that tiny reminder to awareness.