Today was one of those days that you had to seize immediately, as it was borrowed from summer and given as a gift. The colors are just brilliant, yellow and red and orange and still green, and the sky was clear and blue, and the sun was glowing and warm, still high in the sky. The morning started off so crisp, so cool but quickly warmed in the sun's light. After dropping Aoife and Liam at school, I walked with the little girls down on the Mill River trail, around the sandy bend and to the spot where Charlotte's stone sits under a tall, white pine tree. The tree is probably 40 inches in diameter, and has growing from its huge roots a tiny tree that reaches for the sky. The path to the stone and the stone itself were covered in fallen needles and golden leaves. While the girls puttered around, gathering sticks and scratching designs in the sandy path below, I cleared the path and the stone. A wipe from my purse helped to clean off some of the mossy growth that had obscured some of the writing on the stone (which reads, We Love You Charlotte Amelia, and has our names engraved on the side) and I easily found most if not all of the sea glass the children have collected and left for her over the years. New to the site was a silver, wire heart, left by a passer by. A kind, simple gift. As I finished rearranging the rocks around the edge of the garden that surrounded her stone Maeve started to charge into the woods, and as I chased her I discovered a magnificent deposit of pine bark from a fallen tree some ways down the trail. I retrieved the huge pieces and used them to line the edge of the path to Charlotte's stone, imagining to myself that these big, beautiful, natural found objects would sometime soon lead some stranger to wander up this small trail-off-a-trail and discover her stone. They would read her name, and wonder who Charlotte is, or was. Charlotte would be real.
When my trail work was finished, the girls and I wandered slowly down the trail back towards the college. Fiona was interested in going to the greenhouse, so eventually I piled them into the stroller and walked all the way back to the trail's beginning at the Plant House. We wove our way through the warm, sweet smelling rooms of the greenhouse, Fiona leading the way and chattering the whole time. She's just magical right now. Having had two previous two year olds, and having one on the way to two, I just can't believe every day that Fiona is what she is. She's a little person, a baby almost, but she's always happy, and she almost never complains about anything. She never whines, she doesn't disobey, she doesn't try to get her own way more than once or twice. She's just absolutely easy, and therefore absolutely delightful. It's just wonderful. She's just the most wonderful company. And she made a super guide in the greenhouse!
Maeve is just as flexible as can be. She loves to do whatever Fiona is doing. The first words out of her mouth every time I get her out of bed are, "Fi - na na?" She needs to know where Fiona is and has to be with her right away. It's so cute. She was thrilled in the greenhouse to see the ceramic frog in the orchid room and the waterfall in the temperate house. Then we headed up to the campus center (a cafe, I told them) and to my delight they had both chocolate milk and chocolate soy milk-- so both girls were able to enjoy a sweet treat together. Then we dallied our way along the path back to the car and returned home for lunch.
Naptime was a gift, even though Fiona didn't sleep, and then in the afternoon Liam had chorus and I stayed in Haydenville with Aoife. She played on the playground for about half an hour with friends while I chatted to the moms, and then we headed with some friends down yet another trail, on yet another section of the Mill River. The sun was so warm, and we walked for a while and then the kids climbed down onto the rocks and dipped their feet into the cold water. What a beautiful sight, on a warm, October day, of bare toes in a river, knowing that eight weeks from now snow could be flying and we will be gathering around the Christmas Tree, preparing for another long winter. It was a day of outdoor wonder with my girls, just soaking in the sun and their joy and curiosity.
I just love doing this, raising children. Right now I'm so calm, I love all of it. What a gift.