23 Below

You never used to say much.

Granted, at a few weeks old, you couldn’t really speak. We had a good time projecting our thoughts on to you, though. No expression went unexamined; each grunt was analyzed or voiced over for maximum comedic effect…or sometimes just to fill the silence.

There was a lot of silence that winter.  For everyone in your life, there was a lot of thinking and lots of change.  For the three months that I stayed in Maine in 2008, it felt like there was another forty inches of snow dumped onto the Portland area each week, sticking us inside under deepening layers of insulation to face each other and ourselves.  The air was always full of electrifying stormy potential, waiting to release itself on the earth.

Your parents are pretty cool and given the option, I don’t think they would have brought you into the world in January in Maine.  But as I will tell Maggie when she comes of age to (AHEM) receive gentlemen callers, babies tend to come when they want.  And you’re a winter boy through and through. This past Christmas while Maggie, my Hawaiian kama’aina, begged to be indoors and naked in front of a heater, you happily donned gloves and strolled outside with your grandmother and bounced along.

You have a lot to say now.

You’re actually pretty hilarious; your verbal acuity is stunning for someone your age.  And you see things…a lot of things.  Your observational skills are incredible, honed as sharp as a scalpel.  As funny as it is now, it’s a bit eerie.  Truth be told, it’s going to be scary when you get a little older.  I’m torn between wanting to see everything you see and wanting to hang back.  You see, I know you’re going to show the adults in your life the things that they don’t want to see.  For better or for worse, you are going to be a force of reality, as grounded as the earth below you and clear and cutting as the winter air.

That’s what happens to winter babies.  Your birthday straddles the line between Capricorn and Aquarius (seriously, forget the new Zodiac) and is in the undeniable thicket of winter.  The deep-winter babies like you power through and cut through plans and preconceptions and expectations; like a storm, you change plans and ideas and minds.  And ready or not, a blizzard is going to force you to stay in and think about things…and you’re always better for having done so.  You can’t lie to yourself when it’s fifteen below and you can see your breath in the air against the window; when you’re willing to dig, you can find yourself in the quiet earth under the snow.

That’s where you’ll always be to me…somewhere between air and earth, clear and sparkling and beautiful.

Happy birthday, Owen.  Auntie loves you.