There’s no truth about your childhood,
though there’s a story, yours to tend,
like a fire or garden. Make it a good one,A Happy Childhood, William Matthews
since you’ll have to live it out, and all
its revisions, so long as you all shall live
Elise, on her 8th birthday in Flagler Beach, Florida
My older sister pulling me out of the water as a child, San Francisco, California
Difficult to believe, but the wee one is now 8 years old. She has adopted my tradition of staying up until midnight to greet her birthday (“keeping the birthday vigil” is what I call it). We let her sleep in, then she fed the turtles, we played on the beach, and went to see Dolittle in the theater.
Hugh Lofting’s The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle was one of my favorite books as a child. I can still remember the pink cover of my tattered copy, lovingly read and re-read. Except I grew up in the cement jungle of Los Angeles, dreaming about a day when I could be close to nature again. And Elise is growing up in a bona fide jungle, full of snakes, alligators, moths and butterflies that defy imagination, and owls whose hoot sounds like monkeys. It’s a deeply enchanted place, the sort of wealth you should leave to the next generation.
Ancient civilizations used to measure their success by the degrees to which their children experienced a better life than they did. I have to say, that is certainly our metric.
Happy birthday, Elise! Thank you for allowing us to see the world through your eyes.