Linda went out this afternoon, leaving me to watch Violet. I was trying to get a good start on report cards - they're due this Friday - so I put Violet into her jolly jumper while I worked. Within five minutes, her cries said she'd had enough. I moved her to her rainforest playmat, then into her crib to watch her mobile. Still, the tears came within minutes, and I had to admit that report cards would have to wait until tomorrow.
So I strapped her to my chest and we went outside and I will be forever grateful to her for making me put off report cards. It was the first truly warm day of the year - not just one of those slightly warm days that cause guys to wear shorts when it's still way too cold (my father calls those days "idiot summer").
From her perch on my chest, Violet watched me take down the maple buckets and check a few of the bluebird boxes - no bluebirds yet. We walked down to the pond and spotted the goldfish for the first time this year - still winter-timid, they shied away from the shore as we came near. We walked around the pond and into the woods. As I hoped, the first, few trout lily leaves were poking through the leaf litter - a sure sign that Spring is here to stay. One of the first edibles of the year, I always taste one or two trout lily leaves when I meet them each April. They have a flavor that's a combination of apples and swiss chard. Violet's still too young for a sample, but she watched, and she did the same a little farther down the trail when we came to a patch of wild leek leaves; each of them still slender, strechting up and out in the sun. I tore off a small piece of a leaf and let her smell it before I ate it. She wrinkled her nose.
We walked along the trail, up our wooded hill to the top of the ridge where our mapling trees stand, and along the ridge to a small clearing. There, sitting on a rock in the tired winter grass, was a mourning cloak - the earliest butterfly of the year. (It overwinters as an adult, unlike most butterflies that migrate or spend the winter in another stage of their life cycle). All black wings and body, but edged with yellow and flashes of irridescent blue, the butterfly allowed us to get close. Violet watched it, and she kept watching it when it took flight after I pushed my luck and tried to sit us down next to it. I imagined it returning and landing on Violet, giving us a great story to tell Linda when she came back home, but it didn't happen. Instead, we just sat, Violet surprisingly content to just stay put and enjoy the watm day. It gives me great hope - to see her so willing to sit and watch the outside world. I know it's too early to be gauging her tolerance level, but I can't help it.