He points out everything as we pass it: a car on the road! A little girl! A doggie that's "so cute"! The constant patter undercuts my thoughts, so I put the voice recorder away and surrender. We make note of all we see and hear: a robin, a plane, a faraway train. A school bus, made of yellow rectangles. It is parked in the grocery store parking lot on this Memorial Day.
Around us, people sit on plastic chairs while meat singes on charcoal grills. The day is mild, the sky clear blue (though green clouds of pollen swirl through open windows, making allergy sufferers like my homebound husband miserable).
As a child, I had a diary which said on the first page, "Make the most of every day, and most every day will seem special." From the time I began to keep a journal, I became an outside observer of my life: making mental notes of especially meaningful dialogue or moments; the character of the sky; the way things felt.
So much falls by memory's wayside: a monotony of asphalt and broken sidewalk. Always, the eye rises to the green, the growing. Always, the ear tunes in the bird song and tunes out the traffic hush. But to my son, the cars sing. He celebrates the turning of wheels; relentlessly directs me to look. "A car on the road! Look, it has wheels!"
We mail a letter and then spend a quarter hour wandering through Sycamore Park, named for the 400-year-old tree that figures on the town's insignia. For lack of a ball to kick, we make our own fun: padding slowly through the park, seeing what we can see, hearing what we can hear, smelling what we can smell. And thus, we see bees courting clover, hear church bells chiming time, and smell meat blackening.
We identify the oak and willow, the gingko and maple. We spend long, ponderous moments contemplating the ancient sycamore, whose longest, weightiest branch is now supported by metal and wood. We make note of the fragments of burst balloons, testament to a past party.
As we make our way home, he falls asleep in the stroller, but I keep looking. I keep noticing. The woman in the mint-green shirt with the pink-flowered skirt. The old men laughing gruffly while playing horseshoes. The teen catching a football in the street, then celebrating by bopping his nearby friend on the head with the ball. The temperate air caressing my skin, the whoosh of leaves overhead. The flag strung across a front stoop, telling its own quiet tale. All of it rendered important, indelible, just through the act of my noticing.