Today was the kind of day that makes me regret the approaching end of summer more than I usually do. It was one of those days that you expect to be like any other day, forgettable and full of routine, but instead it unfolds into a procession of marvelous events that are as unexpected as they are memorable. I had stayed up too late last night, well past an intelligent hour, and so, when Violet let us know that she was ready to be sprung from the crib, it felt much too early. Linda, wonderful Linda, picked Violet up and took her from the bedroom, closing the door to let me sleep a bit longer. When I finally did feel ready to get up, it was earlier than I expected, much of the morning still left, leaving me to enjoy the morning without the guilt of the late-riser. I was able to get a lot accomplished - bills paid, preparations for school, phone calls, emails, and when Violet woke up from her nap, I could devote the afternoon to her without any distracting thoughts. I buckled her into her car seat and drove to Beaver Meadow. We took a short hike, searching the meadow for monarch caterpillars and ending up at the Arboretum, a park-like section of the preserve with wide swaths of mowed grass, perfect for crawling. And Violet crawled. And played. And babbled more than I’ve heard her do in months. I listened to her make sounds that almost – almost – sounded like talking, and it made my chest tight to hear it. I watched her crawl after objects both near and far, some of them too far, I thought, to hold her attention on the way, but while she stopped now and then, apparently to rest, she always made it to her target - a flower, a leaf, the camera. I wanted to see how far she would go, so I picked up her jacket and walked it across the grass, maybe fifteen feet away, wondering if I was pushing her, testing her, when I should just be enjoying the moment, but my curiosity won out, and I sat down next to her jacket, calling her. And she came.
Later on, after dinner, Linda and I sat on the deck in the twilight, Violet in her highchair, discussing what it might be like to have a second child, and Violet started talking again. Her tongue stuck out and curled over her upper lip, and she softly chanted, “Bla, bla, bla,” or “la, la, la, la.” Linda said I should try to coax a “dada” out of her, and I tried, looking into Violet’s eyes and pointing to myself, saying “dada”. Her big, blue eyes stared back, returning some kind of recognition, and she did talk. It might have been “dada.” Or maybe not, but the sound of our daughter talking back left us both with smiles so big that they hurt and eyes so happy that they were wet.