The plan was to attempt the carousel: the one the little ones had been begging to ride the entire trip. We harried into the park, crowded during the hot summer’s day, and made our way up the path tho the girl’s favorite spot. Birds lined the trees, waiting for that little old lady with the brown bag to feed them.
The carousel was closed. The mechanism had been gunked up with something the day before and need to be broken and down and cleaned.
So the day before, the girls’ had asked to feed the birds, as well, and I told them they should ask the woman if they each have a handful and sit with her to feed the birds. They approached on this day timidly, but with some encouraging words and glances they made it to her bench, scared her collection of birds away, and asked their question.
She was quick with a warm and surprised smile and told them to take a seat next to her as she doled out a handful to each of them. SHe ecplained that if you want to see the prettiest birds, it’s important to be completely still and quiet. I don’t know how that lesson went through their little heads, but there they sat, still and silent as statues, for a whole half hour.
Just as I began to see Rowena’s face fall with disappointment that as far as her eyes could see there were only grey, dingy pigeons, a yellow-plumed oriole, bold as you like, came and stood right on her arm. Her face lit up with excitement and she darted her eyes towards me – I gave her a quick little nod and full-faced smile. I gave her a little sign to be as still as she could so the little creature could enjoy his snack.
It took its few pecks, hopped from foot to foot, and was gone. Rowena couldn’t contain herself. SHe flew out of her seat exclaiming wildly, “Did you see that?” I giggled and nodded and bent down to embrace her.
Boudica waited until her hands were pecked clean, watching each bird as close as she could. When she came back to me, she raised her palms to my face to show me the little marks the birds had left, red and raised. I looked at her with sympathy, but she replied to the question in my eyes without prompting. “They were beautiful, Mommy.”
Not once did she wince when I made them both scrub their hands with soap and water.
They both agree, to this day, that that was the most wonderful, memorable day they’ve ever had at the park.