Most of my days are samey lately. Five hours of mowing lawns in the morning, drive home/pull in the driveway, say hello to my wife as she passes me in the door on her way to work. I plow through some Rold Golds and a Diet Coke with Violet in my lap. I gobble on her ear: she smiles and tries to ignore me. We watch some CNN. We speak of Iran, of lands far away. We watch the guy on CNN read things from Twitter. We turn off CNN.
Later I apply greasy baby sunscreen to my daughter's nose and cheeks as she lays on the changing table. She opens her mouth wide and smiley as if she wants to eat the lotion. I tell her that when she gets older she can eat all the lotion she wants. But not this afternoon; not yet. We put on long sleeves in case the sun wants to bite. And little pink or white socks. I rub her tiny feet, buzz one in my mouth. She smiles big and laughs without sound. Her out loud laughs are still only here and there. They are coming though and I am crazy for their arrival.
I slip on a three inch sneaker. Pink Bobos. Violet coos and gasps and pops her lips as I tie up the dirty white lace. Then I do the other one.
The dogs run around the house clicking their hard nails on the wood. They get excited when I dress Violet. They know we're all going.
In the Honda we drive past strip malls and Pizza Hut. We put jazz on the radio and we turn it up loud. We pass Mormon churches and Subway.I watch Violet's face in the little mirror wrapped around the headrest she faces in her seat. I make puffy cheek faces in case she can see me in her mirror like I see her in mine. We pass a monument to a sugar mill that never even got built. We pass the Red Lobster where my wife and I had dinner the night we got married. I mention this. I tell her to look at the giant mountains in front of us. I never shut up.
On our walk we watch the dogs run and jump and swim. We stand by a bend in the creek and watch cutthroat trout suck mayflies off the glassy water. I get so excited when another fish splashes at a bug that Violet gets a sly grin. We like the same things.
Butterflies swoop down to say hello. Silkworms drop from the treetops, land on my daughter's sun hat. Other dogs pass us by with a nod and a wink. Quail march across our path and wave at their good friend Violet. Hawks circle above us and scribble her name on the thermal twists. Airplanes blink their lights at her. The sun hands her a root beer barrel, every afternoon....without fail.
Back in the Honda the smell is marinated dog. The heat of the locked up car slips out the open windows as our movement creates new cool. Sweat from the climb from the canyon to the car just cakes on my arms like wet sugar. Violet and Max and Milo and me, we listen to a Horace Silver song. The music is pie filling in our Honda pie. We are hunks of fruit just smearing ourselves with lotion and watching fishes and waving at the clouds and the grasshoppers and the baby birds in the trees by the side of the road that we whiz by in a Tasmanian Devil blur of Doppler Effect trumpets and incessant crazy barking.