Thursday, August 16, 2012

three girls from texas

Spend the afternoon. You can't take it with you.  —Annie Dillard

there were once three girls from texas. one afternoon in july they (and james!) landed quite nicely upon our doorstep. i was glad that megan, astrid and willa (as in willa cather—is that great or what?—whose stories and novels about frontier life, and the early settlers on america's great plains, are rich and authentic and populated with intelligent and resourceful pioneer women) came to maine to spend many afternoons; they stayed with us for two glorious weeks.

when the girls (and james!) first arrived, it seemed as if the days stretched out forever in front of us and that we had all the time in the world to see and do the things we wanted to see and do: the portland waterfront, the children's museum, the maine wildlife park, some shops in freeport, a cruise around casco bay on denny's boat, a pool party, the all-day gentlemen of the road concert overlooking the ocean on the eastern promenade (that james and megan, and hannah and her friends, went to) and featuring mumford and sons and fireworks in the evening, a hop aboard mike bretton's lobster boat to watch him haul up a few traps and help him measure some lobsters to see if there were any "keepers", a backyard lobster feast, highly competitive games of ladderball, and a trip to vermont to visit the new baby and spend a couple of activity packed days at jay peak.

i had forgotten the boundless energy, curiosity, and high-pitched chatter of the five and seven year-old crowd, and even though i was exhausted every night—the second my head hit the pillow i immediately sailed into dreamland—i loved hearing the giggles and the make-believe play, and even the inevitable squabbles. the two little girls were completely delightful and endearing.

it never ceases to amaze me how children—and some adults—use their imagination and create a time of wonder for themselves. astrid and willa announced i had the biggest flower garden they had ever seen (an example of their sturdy imaginations—it is hardly that big). it seemed as if every few minutes during the first couple of days of their visit they were asking me if they could pick flowers. they wanted to fill jars and vases with bouquets and "make things pretty." i had to firmly but gently quash that idea and instruct them that the flowers, for the most part, were to remain attached to their stems so that we could enjoy—and be surrounded by—the garden's colors, instead of having to look at a barren backyard displaying sad decapitated stalks.

on their last day in maine, i made up a scavenger hunt for the little girls. they were to find things belonging to the natural world (bugs, a yellow finch, a hot pink flower) and also garden related objects (a blue flower pot, a garden sculpture, a watering can), all of it outdoors. astrid's and willa's powers of observation were wonderful. willa noted that there were little brown swimming things in rainwater that had collected in a stone pot. are those tadpoles? she asked. nope, those aren't cute tadpoles, i answered in an ominous voice as i peered into the water. i informed the children that the squiggly critters were in fact hundreds of baby mosquitoes, and, seeing as we have plenty of mosquitoes participating in the forest food chain around here, i promptly dumped the water out.

top photo credit: david stall


alexandra said...

We miss you Megan, Astrid, and Willa! you should move to the northeast!

Leonora said...

It sounds like three girls from Texas had two weeks that they will never forget! What fun!
I read "O Pioneers" by Willa Cather. It is a beautiful name, (as is Astrid) and I do believe I will check out some more of Miss Cathers' books.