June 20, 1974

I shouldn’t let so long go between installments; you change so much. I’m sitting with you in the hot Nebraska sun. Actually, the hot Nebraska shade. There is a good breeze, but it still is hot even here in the shade of the lilac bush.

You are sitting up, playing with your squeaky yellow rabbit and an old cup. Occasionally you reach out to the grass just beyond the folded down sides of your playpen. You are wearing only a diaper and plastic pants, and the gnats seem to be bothering you. Not biting, just landing on your face and neck. It’s been hot for two days and we’ve spent most of our time inside in air-conditioned comfort, a real luxury.

Your second tooth is in, and you seem to be working on another. You eat anything I give you, even if it has lumps. Daddy got us a blender for our anniversary so you can eat about anything we do now. You get extremely upset if meals are late though.

You are just about to crawl, I think. You get up on your hands and knees and rock back and forth. Sometimes you move one knee forward and then the other, but when it comes time to move a hand you fall on your nose.

Last week Grandma and Grandpa Ericson came here. They came at four o-clock on Saturday morning. You woke up just before they came and were up to greet them. You were a little shy at first. But after a day or so you seemed to enjoy being with them very much. Grandma played games with you. She would bend over and smile at you and you would lay your head on your shoulder and smile back. You played “peek” with her and listened to her sing and slept when she rocked you. She wanted to push you in the stroller, but since we didn’t have one, she walked you up and down the street. We went all over with them – to the zoo, Dodge Park, the Dodge house, the telephone museum, de Soto Bend, and picnics. Grandma worried that you weren’t getting enough sleep or food, but you seemed to be OK. The only bad thing you did was cry at night. Five or six time a night you scooted up to the end of the crib, hit your head and cried until I came to straighten you out. That lasted all week, then when they left you quit.

I just finished reading The Rim of the Prairie by Bess Streeter. Nebraska hasn’t changed much in some ways. The same heat on a day like today, the same hot, wet wind and the plains stretching out, rolling gently still there, but a few miles west settling down to unbroken flatness disturbed only by an occasional farmhouse and grove of trees planted long ago.

The freeway goes relentlessly to where the wagon teams once put ruts in the road and wheat and corn have replaced the endless prairie grasses but really it is much the same. There is a spirit here that those passing through can’t understand. I almost cried when I found out we had to live here. Now I will leave with some regret. I love the richness of the land, the sturdiness of the pioneer’s trees against the ever-present wind. The hot blue sky. The checkerboard fields of corn and winter wheat, the violent storms that come from nowhere and are gone just as suddenly to somewhere else. And I love it because you were born here, and I am watching you grow like healthy young corn in a good year.

You’ve known Nebraska blizzards and Nebraska spring with melting snow and the heat of Nebraska summers. Now I am impatient for you to know the cool dry beauty of Idaho mountains in August. I want you to dip your toes in icy lakes, to sleep in fragrant needles under a pine tree and feel the hard rough rocks under your feet. You are too young now to understand but I hope you will when you are older. As I write I see you as an exuberant 3-year-old or 12-year-old and full of secrets in your pockets to bring home and share with me. And I see you a serious eyed young man, yet with the same spreading joyous smile that lights your face now. It is to that young man I write now. The one who seems more real in many ways than the baby beside me in the grass. I hope you will be something like your father, sensitive, but practical with a sense of humor and a deep honesty.[1]

I will be sad to see you grown up. I already miss the fierce demanding baby that you were at 6 weeks. At the same time, I love the sweet laughing boy that you are becoming. It is a joy to hear your crib rattle as you wake up from your nap and to go up and find you laughing at the ceiling for no reason at all that I can see. It’s fun to see your excitement as you learn something new.

  1. Dream fulfilled Jon and more besides. ↩︎