Tuesday, July 25, 2017


One of these days I will count the number of spent day lilies I snip off each morning. I know the number varies, because today I worked far longer than the day before. Or, I could go out and count the number of open flowers, knowing that tomorrow they'll be filling my bucket and joining their fallen sisters in the compost pile.

This morning is partly sunny and the flower colors are once again brilliant.

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The beds are at their finest.

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I'm still fighting the mosquitoes, but it's not such an all out attack. And so I take greater care when working the fields. I'm not merely plowing through to get things done and to return safely inside.

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New comers to the scene: the false sunflowers.

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The pink cosmos is reaching great heights and once again I tell myself that in the future, I should keep to the shorter varieties. The tall stalks tumble without support.

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Breakfast is very late.

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So late, that at its end, I almost immediately head out to pick up Snowdrop.

(There they are again! Every day, same field, same band of brothers! Well, I suppose they could be a band of sisters, or couples out on a date. You can't really tell crane gender just by staring at them, except for the fact that the males tend to be somewhat taller.)

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I pick up a happy girl. Or is she tired? She chooses her seat and waits for her snack...

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I ask her what next -- playground? Pool? I'm actually not sure what she'll say. It's not exceptionally warm and the skies have clouded over.

She hesitates, but only for a moment: pool!

Here is a rare glimpse of how Snowdrop would look were she not so attached to her sweater (she is changing into her swim stuff).

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I remember my one and only baby sitting job: it was a big one -- I was a nanny to a little girl for several summers and the school year in between. My charge would only wear polo shirt dresses. Her family was quite prosperous and her mom was impeccably dressed, as was fitting for her Manhattan Fifth Avenue status. I'm sure she would have liked to see her daughter in something other than a polo shirt dress, but in all the time I lived with them, the girl would look in her closet, pretend to consider other options and then point to that same dress (well, she had several, but they were all basically the same).

I think she outgrew her devotion to that style quickly enough! In the same way, I'm certain that Snowdrop's sweater phase will pass.

In the pool now, happy as a little penguin!

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But here's a surprise -- despite the slightly deteriorating weather, the pool is crazy popular today! Bus pull up, kids spill out. Again and again and again.

To me, the noise level alone is enough reason to retreat. Snowdrop feels differently. She makes friends with girls twice her size and though these are not enduring friendships, I see that they are important to her. She is a kid who loves adults and children alike. When she shares in their world, she is happy.

In other words, I have a really hard time getting her to leave.

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Still, Snowdrop is not a sulker. We leave, she finds other reasons to be cheerful again.
Ahah, will you play ball with me?

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And later...

Gaga, can I play the guitar?

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It's too easy to want only this side of Snowdrop: her good cheer is so contagious! You have to remind yourself that you're most valuable to her in those other times -- when she proclaims "I am sad," or when she wants something that she cannot have. With a kid this happy, those opportunities do not present themselves very often. When they do, I always hope that I don't give in to the great desire to fix her mood, rather than listening carefully and figuring out how best to help her muster her own resources to get to a better place.

Later, so much later, after dinner, after a few news programs, Ed and I go out to play tennis. I was tired, he was ambivalent, but we go anyway. Because when we play on those courts hidden in a fragrant pine grove, the world slows down and any vestiges of worry are replaced by a feeling of peace, of time well spent.