Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Wonder of Small Things

It's the little things that come back to me in quiet moments, filling my heart with joy and wonder. This image keeps recurring in my mind, of Evangeline standing before an old wooden ship which Dutch drug down from the attic of our rented beach house.

The ship's belly was filled with little wooden cannons and a gang of wooden sailors, whose black hair was made of yarn. They all wore white linen pants and gray jackets and their shoes were painted a glossy black. I'm not sure who was more enamored with them - the girls, or me!

I could have watched them for hours, filling the prow with Scrabble pieces and arranging the cannons into long straight lines beneath the black masts of the ship's extravagant sail.

To our amusement the cannons contained little wooden spools in place of cannon balls. To shoot the spools one had only to pull back and release a round knob at the back of the cannon - Audrey's sole preoccupation once she discovered it was possible. But it was Evie, Evie, looking on eagerly, and squealing, grunting, shrieking with anticipation, who really astounded me. For once she realized that the cannon was capable of such a mechanical feat, she would not rest until she could shoot it herself - a near impossible task for a one-year-old with chubby fingers! But Evangeline was persistent; she would make the thing shoot. She plied and plied... And then it happened - once, as if by accident, the spool went up, up over the sail, bounced onto the carpet, and glided cleanly across the wood floor.

Such a look of smiling satisfaction broke out across her face that we all erupted with smiles - smiles and whoops and cheers. And I wondered to myself how the world had ever grown tired of such old-fashioned games.

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