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OtterSummer 8.22-ToeJam

In the Bible, washing another’s feet was considered an ennobling act of humility, especially if a king deigned to scrub some leper’s tootsies. At least once every Otter Summer, the girls—The Muse and her Grand Otter—take over some public space around the place for some fancy footwork. The Otter’s already a skilled beautician, The Muse her willing client.

This event usually occurs after a couple of chilly days and soggy nights, after The Otter’s experienced some upset or another, and communication’s been bouncing off steel-reinforced brick walls. A flurry of seedy Facebook posts the night before had prompted The Muse to post a complaint on The Grand Otter’s “Wall,” and I found that familiar, unwanted knot growing in my gut.

I wasn’t surprised when I noticed the grand distraction initiated. Pedicures take The Otter away from her fomenting Facebook stream and her seemingly inexorable iTunes account to focus her on the here and now present. Conversation can’t help but happen then.

I’m not privy to anything that happens there. I can feel the vibes and keep my distance, helped this morning with Sierra’s arrival. Sierra’s just turned one. Her folks, co-workers of The Muse, were moving, so her aunt, in town to visit and help, dropped her off to our care just after the footwork started. I was hoping to be the primary caregiver, anyway, since Sierra and I have some history. I’ve baby sat her a couple of times, and we get along very well. Sierra’s aunt announced that Sierra had been up into the wee hours after discovering her folks packing up her room, and had been roused early by the movers arriving, so she was carrying a heavy sleep deficit; a little clingy and a little sniffy.

I carried her up to the BIG bed upstairs and made up a quick repetitive lullaby, this one prominently featuring someone with the same name as Sierra and pretty much in the same condition as her. “Poor little Sierra, trying to go to sleep,” I began. “Trying to go to sleep, trying to go to sleep. Poor little sierra, trying to go to sleep, she’ll probably stay awake until the morning.”

The trick with lullabies might be the same trick pedicures employ. Gotta get into the moment with something soft and repetitive. Sierra struggled half-heartedly before kneeling next to me and finally laying her head on my chest where the resonance is best. “Poor little Sierra, ...” I began for about the fifteenth time, then she started sighing in synch with the tune before losing the cadence to a slow, steady snooze. I continued through this transition, trapped beneath the baby, content beyond description.

It’s the repetition that does it, breaking through even the iron will of a sleep-deprived one year old. The Otter had likewise awakened sleep-deprived, The Muse announcing a moratorium on any texting after two am, under the threat of losing internet access, followed by the invitation to polish her toes. What might have degraded into a fussy morning became one encircled with quiet conversation, punctuated with the deep draughts of a slumbering baby.

By the time the situation had stabilized, it had grown too hot outside to mow the lawn. I’ve been trying to explain to The Otter’s acceptance that we needed to be getting up and out early, since the July sun here fries anyone heading out nearer noontime. I’d missed my own window this morning, which means I’ll be mowing tomorrow morning instead. I can’t say I feel in any way remorseful. The place never seems more peaceful than when the women folk are toe-jamming. Overlay that tranquility with one sleeping baby and it’s a wonder I didn’t doze off myself.

©2013 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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