Each morning, when my twins are ready for school, I walk with them out the front door and across the street to the top of Abby Hill. It is not really named this, in actuality it is just another numbered hill among many here in Seattle, but we call it Abby Hill because I like names and my girls’ friend Abby lives right smack-dab in the middle of the hill in a butter-yellow house with a great big tire swing in the front yard, so we call it Abby Hill in her honor.
Another house sits at the top of Abby Hill that has no name, yet. Maybe Cluttergate would do. It is a hodge-podge kind of house, just flowing and glowing with flowers and brambles and trees galore. The inside of the house is no less overgrown, with every window and doorstep piled high with stuff – books, blankets, buckets, even a cluster of hand statues lined along a windowsill, waving at us each morning with very stiff and formal, “How Dee Do, Ladies!”. I have no doubt the inhabitant of this house has a severe case of HoardersRUs, yet it doesn’t bother anyone else much, and we quite like those hands waving us along.
Outside Cluttergate the sidewalk going down the hill is particularly bumpy and cracked, and in one spot, up near the top, the cement rises straight up into a jagged point. It is here that I have my twins stand each morning and jump. “As high as you can! In unison girls! Smile! Try it again!” I sing, my morning ditty always the same.
I take their photo, trying to capture that perfect moment when they are both in the air, flying forward. It is hard, particularly because since I started this little project a month ago, my girls have increased their agility at jumping in tandem only slightly. There are also the factors of how late we are on that particular morning, their various stages of undressed/dressed attire, plus my ability to hold the camera level after one or none cups of coffee, so you can see why this project is a learning experiment for us all.
Yet the upside to this little morning duty is that it has not failed, one time, to bring a smile to my girls’ faces. They are often hurried and distracted, trying to get to school on time. They are irritated at my insistence on posing yet again, for still another photo. Yet obediently they jump while I snap away, and after a minute or so, maybe four or five tries, they come running back to me, happy. They grin and kiss me goodbye and then turn and run right back down the hill with their enormous backpacks slapping against their rumps, and the whole episode never fails to make me smile, either.
Besides turning my girls into high jumpers, my goal is to one day, some day, make a collage – maybe twenty, thirty, forty pictures in all – of them jumping in various stages of togetherness and spirited individuality. I want to have my three big kids do it, too, but they dart off in different directions each morning, not so willing to linger and pose, and certainly not to jump. (Mother’s Day is coming up, perhaps they will oblige…)
Sometimes, as I wander home after seeing my little bunnies jump down Abby Hill, to sudden silence and coffee and laundry stacked high in big, colorful piles, I wonder what my girls will remember of this little exercise, years from now, when they are old. “Our mother used to have us jump off this cement rise every morning before school…” they will begin. “And run through fields…She constantly wanted us to run, or jump, or spin….and then do it all again because she missed the shot!” Where their little tale will end I have no idea, because I don’t even know why I like these photos so much. I just do. I really do.
Jumping is joy, I’ve decided. Running is a short respite from this earth’s constant, needy grasp. Spinning swirls the vision from clarity into surprise, and cartwheeling, at my age, is just crazy fun. So just jump! Please! And hold that pose….