From my office window, two stories above my garden, I hear the teachers first, an alert that my favorite site is occurring yet again. “Come on, Billy,” they call. "We have to meet the others at the corner.” Or “Susan, push your feet forward. Come this way.”
All bundled up
The two and three year olds are out for a walk on a warm day. Some of the children walk purposefully. Some still finish snack time while on the move. A few arrive at the corner north of my house and impatiently wait for their buddies.
One little guy is bundled up as if winter were about to make a quick return. Or is the truth that he loves that hat and scarf?
A couple of children ride bikes without pedals, bikes short enough that they can propel them with a foot on either side.
Susan has not yet gotten the idea of pushing off with her toes. She pushes with her heels and thus goes reversing down the sidewalk. She dismounts, pushes the bike forward for a few steps, then gets back on only to lose half her forward motion. Susan will get it. I expect any day to look out and see her traveling at the speed of the rest. I love her persistence.
Looking for a pool
One of the girls strides by, sporting swim goggles. I wonder if she woke this morning hoping for a different type of excursion. I expect her folks will soon sign her up for summer swimming classes.
But Billy is the child I wait for. Billy will not be hurried. Each day, he studies what others have passed by. He collects the winged seeds of my neighbor’s maple and the spikey nuts of my Sweet Gums. He kicks the piles of leaves from the Kwanza Cherries north of my yard. He watches lost worms creep their tentative way across the sidewalk in search of home.
When the sun comes out, and Billy discovers a companion he didn’t know he had.
Walking with a new friend
By the time Billy arrives at the corner, he has been on an expedition. From my window, I think, “Come on, Billy. Keep looking. Keep seeing what the rest of us have forgotten to enjoy.”
I know that someday, Billy will go by with the speed of others. He will have learned that friends become impatient. He will have unlearned the freedom of his curiosity. When he is grown, I hope he recalls, in the back alleys of memory, his joy in exploration.
(In case you are worried, yes, I have permission to photograph the children in these pictures.)