January 22: Last summer, with a Nats game on TV, Nate or Jere would walk by, point to Juan Soto at bat and say “Mom’s favorite player.” Huh? Yes, I loved the spunk and spark of the 20-year old left fielder, but my favorite player? I never thought about it. And then: an eighth-inning three-run single to catapult the Nats to a wild Wild Card win; late-inning solo homers to shift post-season momentum, again and again; that megawatt smile; and his contagious, playful joy. OK, boys, you were right all along. I guess Juan Soto is my favorite player. Behold my new bobblehead!
January 23: School buses rumble up our street and the seagull cries of children spiral out front. For 20 minutes each school day, our yard becomes a playground and our corner a coffee shop. I weave among the parents, on my way to the metro. Thank you, they say. Truly, the pleasure is mine, I respond.
January 24: My three Magi may be tucked sleepily away in their attic box, but their avatars greeted me today at day-start and day-end. First, a friend came to my office to talk about work; soon we were pondering the potency of saying “yes.” We tiptoed around this paradox: that by saying yes, we can defy scarcities of time and energy — and actually create more time and energy. Later, over dinner, my family talked of building connection through humility and curiosity — an expression of generosity that even the kindest people sometimes forget. When I pull my bedsheet up to my chin tonight, I’ll thank the Magi for their gifts.
January 25: My sister, her husband and I walked across a bridge spanning the Rappahannock River in Fredericksburg, VA. John pointed to an island directly below us. “If I’d been here as a kid, I would have found a way on to that island.” As kids, Dianne and I did have an island: a small traffic island in our sleepy neighborhood, home to a handful of long-legged pine trees and needle-soft grass. We’d drag our wagon to the island, to eat lunch and perform skits (Dianne recalled). Ok, so we called it “Dog Doo Island,” but it was ours.
January 26: From the kitchen window I watched a squirrel nibbling on a tiny pumpkin that, until yesterday, rested abandoned under a front-yard shrub. She’s already moved it from place to place on our lawn. I hope we have a narrow definition of “weeds” come summer.
January 27: Gift cards, Christmas cookies, friendly waves, grown men clambering up a child’s ladder: The bus-stop parents find many ways to thank us for placing a swing-set in our front yard. Today Kevin saw a neighbor’s carpenter installing new crossbeams, ladder rungs and swings on our wobbly old structure. I’m tempted to play on it myself. Would the kids join me? Would the parents?
January 28: I walk beside Benjamin Banneker Park each morning and watch as it yields to improvements. The barriers, chainlink fences and cords establish bounds. And still there’s love. The baby trees are in their protective sleeves, safe from deer-nibbles. The old trees stand tall and patient. But my favorite are the medium trees, their trunks guarded by wooden planks. Like a ballet skirt. Or perhaps toddlers hugging their mom. Either way I dance.
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