Look! It's Old Man Luedecke's very own copy of The Joy Of Cooking, like mine: crusted up with fossilized pancake batter and chocolate icing smears and pages dusted with flour and dried, post-splatter, into crinkles.
His latest album, Domestic Eccentric, was recorded in the godforsaken armpit of the longest and gnarliest winter any of us can remember. He hired a backhoe to shovel a path through chest-deep snow to his woodland cabin, where everyone tumbled inside with gourd banjos and mandolins and fiddles and drums, and me and my camera, too, to capture a bit of it all.
Domestic Eccentric. Three little girls run around the house in circles, little white-haired scamps, little messy bruiser-fairies who are very CAPITAL LETTERS when they talk, and they're still at that point when they've got their baby-Rs and their baby-Ls, and somebody's always in the middle of a dirty face or an upside-down tumble off the end of the couch. And he or his beautiful artist of a wife take a look in the oven, poke at something delicious, make cocktails and music as the house orbits around them.
This is what it means.
Me and Katy were both there in the cabin, tiptoeing in the middle of heaps of mic cords and extension cords and speaker tripods, swivelling in every direction with our cameras—hers capturing video for her Analog Songs and me capturing stills—but I could hardly see a thing. I was one of the first people to hear the song The Early Days played live, as it was recorded, and what a hopelessly wet face. I tried looking through the lens but made my own fog.
This is what it does to a grown-up to love a kid: kids of friends, kids of lovers, kids of one's own. You don't see them for a week or two or a month and the next time you do, they're walking; running; teasing you with wit used properly. They suddenly speak in full sentences and your heart bursts into a thousand pieces, like a smashed mirror, except instead of shards of bad luck it's rainbow bubbles and peanut butter and giggles. You realize that little song he used to sing—ah-deeeey-o, a deeey-o, ah-deeeo-deeyay-deeooh-mama!—will never be heard again, because now he says "I am a piece of toast. Push me down but don't touch me when I pop up! I will be hot."
My babies! Stop! Go back! Wait! I miss you when you'd wake up in a red-hot sweat. I miss brushing your teeth and washing cloth diapers. I miss making tea while you jolly-jumped in the kitchen. I want a museum diorama that I can visit anytime I like, glass boxes of idyll: EVAN AT NINE MONTHS. BEN AT FOUR MONTHS. EVAN AT FIVE YEARS. I want to revisit mai tei walks on October beaches when all they could say was GOODLEDEAAAAUUGH, squashed up in a little package on my chest, needing my warmth and my surprisingly delightful and alien food machines.
I am torn, so torn! I want to watch all three Back To The Future installments in a row while we eat too many whoopie pies. I want them to understand the ripple effect of Biff's attack on Marty's mom. I want to hear their opinions about the world. But I also want them to wake up in a red-hot sweat! And then climb in with me! To make me red-hot sweat! The sweetness! The wrack! The irreconcilable slipperiness of time, damned time! The sweetness! The wrack! And repeat.
Where did my babies go? Why can they never exist again? How soon can I show them Mad Max: Fury Road?
Ben asks me how my day went. Evan beats me at wrestling and I find all my favourite socks stashed under his bed. I can't listen to The Early Days anymore. Not if I'm on my way somewhere and need to not have mascara dripping off on my chin. This love makes me a soppy mess, as it did to get a backstage pass to Old Man Luedecke's cabin.
Domestic Eccentric is a nod to let us know we're not the only ones. All of us—moms, dads, playmates and adoptive loves of all the scamps—will miss that goldfish-strewn, shouty, little-boots shopping cart as much as we wish they'd get on with it and start walking.
We'll barrel on ahead: grocery-ing, cooking, herding, flopping at the end of the day. Wrapped up in orbit, we'll forget how fast it'll be a distant yesterday.