Monday, September 28, 2009


Doesn't Balance Man make it look easy? Standing there, surrounded by nature, insouciant, on one foot. The everlasting rock beneath him, the seasonal and nourishing pumpkin behind him, the sun on his shoulders. The weighted bar he holds pulls him down, and yet lets him balance more easily.
Evelyn made him as a birthday present for a friend. It is hard to see the work when he balances there with such apparent ease. She whittled him out of a branch.

Then she stripped and whittled a supple branch to make the balancing rod he holds. The weights are two circles of a hollow stick she sawed off with her leatherman. They are filled with clay from Williamsburg.

To hold his balancing rod on she needed glue. But Balancing Man is an all natural kind of guy. So Evelyn combed the backyard in search of soaproot. She peeled it, boiled it, mashed it and strained it to make glue.

Here she dabs on the glue. But not before moving the bar left and right, turning it slightly backwards and forwards, making tiny microadjustments until he balances just right, on one foot. She needed some help, because before the glue balancing man would drop his bar, and then she'd have to start all over again.

Evelyn gave her balancing man to her friend. I was so sorry to see him go.

But, Evelyn, if you are taking orders, I think I would like a balancing woman with three children on her shoulders.

What balance would she strike as she tried to stay standing and provide balance in their lives and in her own?

Time for free play.
Costume and photograph by Clementine

And time for coloring Medusa heads on Grecian urns.

Time for whittling balancing men, and time for writing balanced arguments.

Time for her children and time for herself.

I got some time making new friends and meeting in person friends I knew from their blogs. The girls were pulling me to leave, but I resisted, enjoying so much conversations taking place in real time instead of ever unfinished in posts and comments.

Friends are life's balancing rod. The longer the rod, the easier it is for balancing woman to stand.

I am so glad to add these women to the balance:

amy : diary of a domestic animal

sarah : urban. prairie. forest.

molly : a foothill home companion

tricia :: wonderfarm

tara : tara.mama.wendy

But as I think about it I am not sure where the children should go. Not only on Balancing Woman's shoulders, for sure. They are also part of the rod and the weight. Their joyful smiles and silly tricks, their hugs and kisses, their imaginary friends and bedtime stories are the counterweight to the woes of the world.

And as they get older they are even a lot of help around the house.

After dinner we were out on the court playing sharks and minnows. Evelyn and Clementine are faster than I am now. I'm only good for a few seconds. In between rounds I went and balanced, panting, on one foot on the rock that balancing man was standing on in the photo.

It didn't seem so hard.


Lise said...

What a beautiful post, and an amazing balancing man! I found my way here through a link from one of the other bloggers in your group; your day together sounds so great! I wanted to tell you about our "museum" we're curating here. I have a home-based early childhood program (0-5) and the kids have been digging up lots of "treasure" in the woods behind my house: bottle bits, pottery shards, old golf balls and matchbox cars. We're arranging it all in individual display cases in a small shelf, each labeled by the kids: "glass," "milk glass," "car," etc. So cool!

patricia said...

Balancing man is amazing. What a gift! And the fact that she made her own glue: awe-inspiring.

And balancing woman as an image in the post? As good as that soaproot glue. Beautiful writing. Your family's creativity never fails to inspire.

Christine said...

I love that outfit :P...Miss you girls

Susan said...

Lise, welcome! Your program sounds lovely. The wooden bowls on your nature table look so inviting. And the paints on an earlier post! Irresistible. I am so glad you shared your museum--what fantastic treasures the kids are finding and curating.

Tricia, balancing woman couldn't do it without friends. :) You inspired me to start blogging and now, 5 days away from the one year mark, I find it has given me so much more than I expected--the integration of the parent and the writer--and a community of friends to be inspired by.

Christine, miss you, too! Isn't SuperGirl something else? Hey, Ev and Clem want to dissect fish with you, maybe in November. What do you think?

Stefaneener said...

Miss you and the girls a lot.

The balancing man is amazing. Ev is going to do interesting things her whole life, I woot.

I think of the kids often as juggling balls -- or flaming torches, depending. All finesse and speed. Maybe I should stand on one foot more instead.

The Stone Age Techie said...

Love this post!

What a talented girl you have there. While you described the process she used to make Balancing Man, I kept thinking about the multiplying numbers of boy scout troops who are no longer allowed knives to whittle, but instead must make do with vegetable peelers.

And, what a talented writer she has for a Mom. Your words gave me goosebumps :-)


sarah in the woods said...

Clementine did a wonderful job on balancing man! I love that he's all natural. Lovely post.