Tag Bannack

Bannack Got a Haircut

Look up above this post at the TOP TAGS list up there. The list is alphabetical, but the most used tag is “Bannack.” Forty five, now forty six of the posts I’ve made have something to do with him.

Looking through those old posts you might get a sense of my nephew’s life. For most of it he’s been a long haired boy.

Whenever we would hang out in Brooklyn, in the park at the store, whatever, eventually someone would use female pronouns when referring to him. Fair enough, and Bannack was cool about it. “I’m not a girl, I’m a long haired boy,” he would say. And I would smile. He rocked that pony tail.


Imagine my surprise then when my sister posted a picture on Instagram of Bannack in a barber’s chair with the caption, “it’s happening.” It’s kind of ominous, right? I knew right away what was up. Haircut time. Short-haired boy time.

It was a long time coming, his hair cascaded over his shoulders. Apparently Bannack knew it was time and my sister and Chris were more nervous than he was. But he knew what he wanted and walked into the barber ready.

It’s just a haircut, but it marks a transition and I can’t help but make a connection to transitions in my own life. Hair grows, silently, slowly, imperceptibly. Eventually you just know it’s time. That’s how it is for me at least. I don’t have standing dates for my haircuts. Hair starts tickling my ears or I see a picture of the back of my head looking like a chicken’s back end and I know. Haircut time.


Something’s been tickling my ears lately. Ilgaz and I look at our life here and see that something has to change. So we’re doing something about it. I’m heading back to Montana in a week. Ilgaz will head home to Turkey. Both of us want to spend time with family, mark transition with bold actions. It just feels right. (No drama. We’ll meet again in December, right after Ilgaz performs in Greece.)

I remember when I moved back home after college I got a haircut, chopped off my sweet hipster fringe and got, you know, a regular haircut. It felt awesome. I felt like less of a kid, people took me more seriously. This time when I come home I don’t have to get a haircut, my hair looks normal but I feel more serious anyway. Ready. Active. Able.

So what does it mean for a kid to decide it’s time to change his hair-do? Something gets left behind, but ultimately it’s superficial hair grows back after all. What’s important is the decision to make a change and every kid knows that getting hair lopped off makes you run faster than ever before.

Bannack’s in Time Out

Chris and Bannack were featured in Time Out for Father’s Day. A photographer stopped them on their way home from the park. (Ismay too, you can see her stocking-cap head sticking out of Chris’ sling.) She asked Bannack some tough questions about why he thought Chris is the best dad in the world. He had a lot to say but they printed his best line:

Tell us why you have the best dad in the world.
“He made my baby sister!”—Bannack, 3, Brooklyn 

Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

The Big Apple Picking

Sara drove Bannack and I upstate to an apple orchard to pick our own half bushel of some of the best tasting sweet apples I’ve ever eaten. Cars filled the parking lot outside the gift shop. Inside we bought our bag to fill and got advice on where to pick from a muscle shirted guy standing in front of his date, “Go all the way back.”

Back around the shop there was a duck pond, a pumpkin patch, chickens, goats and a rustic tree lined trail up to the orchard. I’ve never seen apples hang so heavily from trees before. Some branches were broken from the weight.

By the time we got to the top of a hill a man eating a huge stalk of broccoli stopped his light-duty four wheeler. I asked him where to find the best tasting apples and he pointed the way down the other side of the hill to a row of trees right on the edge of the farm. As he pulled away I noticed a bottle of beer in his cup-holder.

We charged down the path feeling a little like trespassers, the little road had a more private feeling than the open orchard. Down in the trees though it was near paradise.  Apples from the first few trees were all of the same type but some were sweeter, some crisper, some more subtle. All astoundingly delicious, especially the ones that grew high up in the sunshine. We filled our half-bushel basket to the brim in no time and carried our loot back to the car talking about all the wonderful things we’d make with all these apples.

The next day Sara and I peeled, cored and sliced (by hand) about three quarters of the apples to make applesauce, spiced apple butter and enough canned apple pie filling for 6 pies. Last night we made a pie and even though I undercooked it—by just a little—it was just as tasty as if it was picked fresh off an apple pie tree. Apparently this sudden family obsession with apples extended all the way back to Montana. My mother sent this photo of the apple press my father cleaned up that they will use to make cider this year when their apples come in. Maybe a little applejack too? I hope so.

Bannack on the Straightaway

Rest Stop Wibaux

We rolled through 615 miles this first day, from breakfast at the No Sweat Cafe to the less than succinctly named Best Western Plus Ramkota Hotel Bismark here in North Dakota. Sara, Chris and Bannack are heading home to New York City and I’m along for the ride.

This trip seems like an extension of my recent trip to the Italian consulate in San Francisco. When I count it all together my summer road trip miles will have reached over 4500 when I arrive in New York. That’s 77 hours of car time according to Google Maps. As you can imagine, rest stops are precious.

Bannack and I were both in the same kind of stir-crazy mood when we got to Wibaux, Montana. The empty deck at the brewery wasn’t a perfect playground but it meant running, airplane rides, bull fighting, getting thrown in the air, Tootsie Rolls, and donkey kicking. We visited Wibaux’s real playground too, but it was the empty kind with painful spiky grass, swings that pinch, and those metal horses on springs that look like they should be really fun but still aren’t.

Sunday we’ll be in Chicago for a night or two, Wednesday night we’ll arrive in New York, and I’m looking forward to every rest stop along the way.