Happy November!

It's a soggy one. And cold. Rain gear is key if you want your kid to arrive in a semi-dry state at daycare after a mile long walk with a lot of puddles and a muddy patch of woods on the way. I remembered to give her mittens today and bribed her with some gummy snacks she got in a Halloween treat bag yesterday. (Parents - post-breakfast dessert is obviously the best time to give your child candy, especially if you are sending them off to be with the people who gave them said candy.) We spotted wet buckeyes and leaves plastered to the streets and several dogs wearing rain coats. I wished we had a second car for a moment, and then I remembered that one of the nicest things about fall and winter is going inside nice warm buildings after a long walk in the rain. I felt happy that Laurel really knows the seasons and the weather. The feel of a cold drizzle on her cheeks, the squish of mud and leaves under her rain boots. That she knows this mile-long stretch of city, that provides an interesting cross-section of urban life. We start at our busy corner. School zone lights flashing and commuters streaming by. Someone will stop their car and let us cross the street, and then we are on "the quiet street" as Laurel calls it. Traffic noises fade into the background and the houses grow in size. As we turn the corner, the trees tower over us, majestic in their old age. This is where people have money. In the summer, gardeners come and change their landscaping the way I change our sheets. Daffodils one month, impatiens the next. We never see the people that live here, except the well-dressed lady who reminds me of Martha Stewart and walks three bichon frise dogs. Then past the private school, kids in uniforms, lined up orderly to start classes. Along a well-used path in a small patch of woods, to the street where all the little kids live. In the afternoons, their moms chat on the sidewalk while they run between yards. They are friendly to us and invite us to stay and play. On warm summer mornings we can hear the clink of their breakfast dishes through open windows. On cold mornings like today, it's very quiet.

Next is the park. The bowling green with its bright green lawn. Crushed limestone paths winding off the main trail down into the ravine. Plenty of birds and sticks and leaves to catch our attention. The same friendly labs and golden retrievers being walked by neighbors before they go off to work. Finally, we can spot the crossing guard at the corner, and stroll past the mechanic, the barber, and the market. There is a child's handprint in the cement sidewalk on this stretch, and Laurel likes to stop and press her fingers into it. When we turn the last corner, she almost always starts running, and is already reaching for the door knob at the daycare center when I catch her.

Even if we leave this neighborhood now, I think this place is imprinted in Laurel's memory, and she'll have flashes of memory of it for as long as she lives.

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