A hermit thrush flies into the glass picture window.
Action: My husband picks it up. Sees its neck is broken, but it is still breathing. He strokes it, then places it on the mantle nestled in a rabbit fur winter hat that belongs to one of the kids.
Result: The bird dies anyway, of course.
What our youngest does when she gets home: Holds the bird, wonders at how soft the feathers are on the top of its head.
What the husband says: I felt so bad for it, dying on such a nice sunny day, and him being such a cute little bird that I put him on the mantle for a while.
What I cook for dinner: Burritos filled with flounder sautéed with butter and garlic and paprika and basil.
What the children eat before dinner is ready: Chocolate chip cookies, hunks of brie cheese, bite-size carrots, and strawberry greek yogurt.
What my husband and I both say to them: Stop, stop eating so much before dinner!
What the children do at dinner: Talk over each other, telling us about school. One has a locker that she has not learned to open, and so everyone else in school knows her combination because others have had to help her, one says he's calculated that he's drunk three gallons of bottled water that's been set out by the school because the running water, due to the destruction of the flooding, is still not safe to drink. One never gets to tell what she did at school, because it becomes a game to the others to interrupt her every time she starts to talk.
What we do after dinner: Walk to the back field with the kids and the Toulouse goose and our two Newfoundland dogs and the raccoon following behind us. We stop at the pond to see if the beaver is swimming back and forth and slapping his tail on the surface. We stop to watch the butterflies flying over the milkweed my husband refused to mow down so that the butterflies could have it. In the pool of water in the stream in the back field, the goose dives down and swims fast, and the raccoon paddles around and swims and the kids hold her like she's a motorboat and toddle her around while making sputtering sounds. The Newfoundlands stand in the water and bark, and then they lie down in the water, their fur floating up above them. When we are done, we head back to the house, the kids stopping to race each other on the flat parts of the field, and then climbing on our backs for rides that are short. They have grown and are heavy now to hold. "You ain't no buttercup anymore," my husband says to them as they climb his back, my girl's hair falling over his shoulders and shining in the light from the sunset that is pink and gold.
What the house says at night: Close your eyes, go to sleep, I'll keep the sound down of my beams creaking so that all of you can rest well tonight.