Tuesday, August 21, 2012


The other morning I was just about to get in the shower when my phone rang. My brother Ross, I could see, calling from New Hampshire.

"Hey Roscoe," I picked up.

"Hi Heather," a boy's pre-pubescent voice piped up.

"Allen!" [Ross's soon-to-be-14-year-old son]. What's up?"

"Welp I got a whole bunch of new fish! I have black moors, we have red caps...you should see 'em swimming around in there, they're so pretty!"

"I knew about the turtles, but you have an aquarium now?"

"Yup, 20-gallon tank, we have little plants, we have rocks. They love it in there. Look up black moor online, you'll see what I mean." I googled black moor and as I was oohing and aahing, he said, "I'll send you some pictures."

We talked about goldfish and fantails and snapping turtles and dwarf frogs. We talked about Nana and I told him about my birthday party. We talked about his birthday on August 23rd and that he's starting school on the 27th. Eighth grade; he's excited.

"That's the great thing about school. You're always really really excited when it gets out and then you're always really really excited to go back."

"Yeah....maybe next time you come back here, you can see my fish"...

We hung up, and I thought about how next year his voice will have changed. I thought about the crab shell collection and the junior search-and-rescue missions and the sno-cone business, and about how much sheer kick-ass joy this kid has brought into our lives. I thought about how there is really not one single call I would rather get in the world than a call from my 14-year-old nephew--than my nephew at any age--telling me about his fish.


  1. Wonderfully awesome! Happy birthday, Allen! A day early.

    (A quick aside about "hot languid summer days": I am already straining my eyes, as I stare at trees searching for the blessed hope of the first red leaf! I should really move to Alaska!)

  2. He's a pipeline for the Lord's joy. Long may he run.

  3. I love the fish tank. They are so soothing. Happy Birthday to your nephew. He and I have the same birthdate. Hope you are well. I haven't been able to keep up with your blog.

  4. Allen the Mapmaker! What a gem. Hard to believe he's only entering the eighth grade.

  5. Joy through the eyes of a child -- may we all be graced with such vision and perception!

    Happy birthday, Allen!

  6. I know it's simply pathetic, my partiality to "little" (he's 5' 9" now apparently!) Allen, but thank you all for indulging me.

    Barbara, Happy Birthday!! Always appreciate your readership, insights, contributions...

    And Tom, in late August my father was always but always straining to see the first leaf that turned. Often a swamp maple as I remember...

  7. Hi Heather, great post. I always thought teenage boys were the worst thing in the world. Now I have two and it's made me love all teenage boys. they are the ultimate paradox, soft and tough, brave and scared, all mixed up and really, such bleeding hearts. You captured that sweetness-thank you!

  8. I don't know a thing about fish tanks but what in the world is that in the last photo?

    Heading up to NH soon.

  9. That was my question, too--what IS that pink thing? I will ask my darling nephew when next we speak but my guess is some kind of frog...


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