After a week of Indian summer that left drifts of crackly fallen leaves on the sidewalks, the rain has arrived. A big storm on the way, perhaps snow by Halloween. I'm ready to hunker down for the winter, to layer my sweater with another sweater and a scarf, to wrap my fingers around a mug of steaming hot tea early in the morning to keep from shivering. But still, there are a lot of leaves left on the trees and I didn't finish weeding the front garden bed before the weather turned, and I hope the wind is not so strong that it damages the mums I just planted in my window boxes.

We went to the zoo today. I intended to stay only an hour as is our habit, but we stayed nearly three. We arrived as the gates opened and nobody was there at first. We spent almost a half an hour at the elephant exhibit, uninterrupted by other visitors, watching the elephants lumber about and spray each other with dust and hay. We ate almonds and watched the birds and inspected the grasses planted in the landscaping. After that it was off-to-the-races, and constantly losing sight of that blonde head as she bounced and ran down the paths on her way to the aquarium. We watched scuba divers carve jack o' lanterns under water and feed the scraps to the fish. We tried to summon the courage to touch the sting rays, but couldn't. We touched every one of the overpriced stuffed animals in the gift shop.

Then Laurel told me, "I am done looking at animals. I want to go home and watch tv."I like how she tells me what she wants. I don't like how it is sometimes not what I want to hear. I would like her to be so enthralled with the enriching experience of seeing a sampling of the world's creatures that she would like to go home and draw pictures about them. But she wanted to chill out and watch Dora. I didn't take a stroller today, which sometimes backfires, but today she walked/ran everywhere with little complaint and then took a two hour nap when we got home.

She woke up in a disagreeable state, and insisted on eating a rather unripe banana, sliced with jelly on each little piece. The jelly kept sliding off and there were a lot of tears. But after we got over that hump, we pulled out the blocks and built a giant tower and she dictated a lengthy imaginary game which involved traveling by "ka-motor boat", and a picnic on the sand and the Atlantic Ocean.

Tomorrow we'll carve a pumpkin and maybe make some pies. Drink pots of rooibos tea and look out the window at the falling leaves.

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