Sunday, May 14, 2023

I'm only here to ride the elevator

is what it says on the little boy's t-shirt. He's a regular patron at our library who comes in once a week with his grandfather, and as his t-shirt makes clear, he likes to ride the elevator. 

This was impossible when the elevator was closed for repairs (FOR A YEAR but who's counting), a major annoyance for pretty much everyone--the staff who had to heft books by the armloads up and down the stairs, the parents with babies in strollers, anyone with bad knees. But the little boy was actually cool with it. 

The broken elevator was a seemingly endless source of interest to him. Why was it broken and when would it be fixed, and how... And you should've seen the joy and wonder on his face on the days when workers were there, actively working on the elevator. 

He reminded me of my son when he was about the same age, a day at the zoo a million years ago, there to see the animals, but instead we sat for two hours on a bench near a fenced off construction area and watched a cement mixer pour cement. Another time when my daughter laughed hysterically in the driveway as a stray cat wound around her legs. 

I can still hear her high, sweet voice singing over and over: "Kitty go round me! Kitty go round me!" And what do you do in moments like that except exclaim yourself. Look at that cement mixer! Or, You're right, what a silly kitty! Until you swear you can feel it too, the joy and wonder of a three-year-old.

This morning I headed out into the garden. Mother's Day, for me, means a day of planting, and I am all business. Setting out vegetable seedlings I bought from the farmers market and flower seeds carefully collected last fall. The gardening tools and plastic planters. The graph paper notebook I use to chart out where to plant. 

I am the opposite of a three-year-old. 

It is sunny and warm and before long I am sweaty, dirty, stopping only when my kids, long grown and flown, call to say hello and catch up, and then it is back to work. Digging, mulching, labeling, falling into the rhythm of it, the dog snoozing nearby, overhead a mourning dove making that coo coo coo sound I love, my fingers in the soil, and then

Look! on a lettuce leaf a slug, its weird tiny antennae twitching. Instead of flicking it off how I normally would, I scooch in closer, on hands and knees now, grinning like a goofball, 

careful and curious as a child. 

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