Friday, April 30, 2010

A Day with Dotch

My sister, Dotch, a.k.a. Doris, has come east for a visit from California. Today was a beautiful Friday, temp. in the 70s ("Septuaginta!"), and April's farewell bow. So the day called for another last-day-of-the-month kite flight among other things.

Dotch is my favorite sister, also my only sister, still four years older, except for a brief period between October and November, when I whittle it down to three years. She taught me to ride a bike back on Nutmeg Lane, tried to teach me to dance and to understand girls, and in general has been my scout into the wilds of adulthood. The night our father died, when I was twelve and she was sixteen, she came into my room to sit with me and listen to my freaked-out babble. She still tolerates and at times even likes my babble. And after a rocky relationship with our mother in the seventies and eighties, she was Betty’s stalwart and devoted caretaker in the last decade of her life, managing her affairs and medical care through Alzheimer’s, hip surgery, day-t0-day tsuris, and finally her funeral and memorial service.

My sister is a writer and editor. I have mentioned in this blog her book, The Dogtown Chronicles, a memoir of her life with goats, sheep, llamas, and other animals in West Marin County, north of San Francisco. Here is her book's website. And here she is, reading an excerpt.

We took a morning walk around the pond and into the woods in Menotomy Rocks Park. The spanch! effect of wind smashing lightly on the water was not in evidence. But redwings owned the shore, flaring epaulettes and cheering their names from the cattails.

Then it was on to Robbins Farm to fly the kite. Readers may remember the “Sky Commander” post for March 31 describing my attempt to get a kite off the ground as a going-away salute to the month I connect with kites. Well, it turns out that April is officially Kite Month. So, another final salute opportunity.

As we approached the crest of the hill, we passed a mother and her kids who had been flying a red kite we had been admiring—way up there. But now they were kiteless. They had overcommitted their flier to distance, and it had sailed off on its own, taking the string with it.

Taking their place, we tested the air cautiously. The kite seemed eager, and after a few tries, up it went! One reason was that the kite now sported a cross-piece that was missing in March. (Who knew?) Also, the wind was incredibly chummy. The string couldn’t unreel off the ball fast enough, burning the unwary fingers. It dipped and swooped, yanking urgently at its string. I couldn’t manage to get a cellphone shot of the bird in the air, but we loved it. Not exactly a sky commander—we hadn’t let it go quite that far. But a sky rider, and a wind companion.

We also attracted a small group of three-year-olds, especially when the kite nosedived to the ground, which it did periodically. They wandered over like inquisitive lambs, saying nothing, just inspecting this big colorful thing in the grass. One boy took an experimental whack at it with his toy shovel.

After a final nosedive, we gathered it up and headed back to the car, bearing it like a triumphant aviator and its loyal ground crew.

More visits to favorite Arlington spots filled the day: Jam ‘n’ Java, my wi-fi café of choice, for lunch; a few minutes in the peerless Balich’s 5 & 10, the one indispensable emporium in town, overstuffed with everything from suspenders to pocket handkerchiefs to a childhood’s worth of toys, games, and Big Chief doodle pads; on to the Lakota Bakery for cookies of uncommon pedigree; then two obligatory games of Scrabble (apologies for NOSTRIL, ELONGATE, and PRIVATE, but not for HOAX) and a walk to Spy Pond under a grand sky of altocumulus clouds before supper. Ending, most happily, with dessert (aforementioned cookies) with pals Helen and Leo.

A veh veh good day, as our mom would have said. A veh good April, for that matter.

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