When the blinds lay horizontally, they are tables set carefully with the finest planks of morning light.
This is what I think as I breastfeed my baby in the living room: how carefully morning holds its limbs together, how pristinely it drops a pearly tooth or two of light. The sun is white cold, the grass crystallized with hard frost. I know this (about the grass), not because I can see it through the window, but because I had to take the dog out, and I felt it beneath my birkenstocks.
The dog did his business in the dog run, and then we ran back to the apartment, and as we ran, I saw that the mountains and the sky had not yet been separated by sun. Two gradations of blue, they melt together in a hazy cloud of color.
Then my husband handed over the baby, screaming, as she tends to, when I leave for even a minute or two (we also are two gradations of color, not yet separated by time). I feed her, mostly to calm her, while her delicate hand makes circles in the air.
I don’t like the coming cold, don't like the mummifying force of winter, but I am trying to see beauty. And today it doesn’t feel so difficult, because not only are there carefully placed planks of light on the blinds, but there is also the expansive smell of garlic, onions, olive oil.
Before I took out the dog, I tossed grape tomatoes, purple onions, and bell peppers with some crushed garlic, olive oil, and salt, laid them on a baking sheet, and slid them in the oven (435 degrees for 15 minutes). The timer sounds, so I detach the baby from my breast, swing her to my hip, and take out the sizzling sheet of vegetables. The tomatoes’ salty, wrinkled skin gives way beneath slight pressure from a thumb. The baby grabs for the vegetables; I test the heat of a tomato in my finger, eat one. Ripe, red, salty. I give one to her, and she immediately grasps for more. I take her to the table instead, sit her in her chair, bring her the granola that I made the week before, soaked in kefir, topped with berries.
You could call this "meal prep" and "baby feeding" or you could call it an eruption of love. Not just the ordinary love of mother for daughter, daughter for mother, but the love of this particular day, with its very particular peculiarities of space, time, light, and cold. This love splits open the ordinary (without our effort, but waiting for our consent), making us wider than a whole-souled smile.
Baby's hands open and clench, open and clench, more, she is trying to say.
This is the origin of pain, this more, I want to tell her, but instead I wipe her berry-stained mouth with a hastily-ripped paper towel, thinking, "May this winter be short."