Last Saturday, before I left for my interview, T, ST and I took a hike in a state park just a few miles from our house. It was such a lovely day -- the kind of crisp autumn weather where the sun is shining but there's just enough of a nip in the air that you need to wear a sweatshirt. The state park is my favorite place to go in autumn because it's teeming with experiences for all of the senses: the bright fall foliage, the occasional deer straying across your path, the twitter of cardinals, the crunch of the leaves under your feet, the smell of the fading forest, the feel of still-supple red and yellow leaves that will, unless pressed between books, become brittle and useless in a matter of hours once you bring them home. We had such a great time at the park. ST especially enjoyed himself, collecting leaves and demanding that T and I stop talking and walking each time a gust of wind coaxed another torrent of leaves from their branches high above our heads. ST was fascinated by the falling leaves: "It's a leaf rain, Mom!" he would exclaim, holding his hands out as the leaves swirled around him.
That's one of the many things I love about having a toddler in the house. He really forces us to stop and observe the world around us with innocent eyes, to try to take in everything the world has to offer. He can watch a ladybug make its way across the driveway for half an hour, happily play with a daddy-longlegs spider until the spider (usually missing at least one long leg by this point) escapes, examine with awe the trail of ants marching up our ash tree. He gets excited to go to the Post Office, the grocery store, the gas station. He will regale you with stories about how he got to push the cart in the dairy section and how the gallons of milk have different-colored labels. He will make you leave your comfortable chair so that he can show you how he's lined up all of his Matchbox cars across the dining room, declaring, "I made a traffic jam!" with obvious pride. He will get his hands dirty just so that he can demonstrate to you how he can wash his hands by himself at the sink, although he gets so distracted by the amazingness of the soap dispenser that it takes him 15 minutes to finish. ST appreciates everything. For ST, unless a diaper change is involved, life is good
As I rethink my interview and send out a few more job applications, as the month-long trip abroad looms large in my mind, and as the stressfulness of completing the dissertation bears down on my system, it's so nice to know that there's a more powerful force for calm in my life. Even though ST has more energy than a hydrogen bomb most days, and even though my 30-year-old body is exhausted after spending the day chasing him around, he still reminds me of all that is simple, wonderful, and innocent about life. He reminds me that a good day is any
day I can stop and let the leaves rain down on my outstretched arms and be thankful that God put me in this
place at this