When my children were tiny they went to a neighborhood preschool, a gentle place taught by lovely teachers who never got upset. There was a dress-up corner, a story-time corner, a Lego corner. In nice weather the kids went outside to play and work in the school’s flower garden.
If it was too cold, they zipped around on tricycles and scooters in a big empty room. Every child longed to ride what they called The Double Bike, an elongated trike with two seats. It was a great day when you got to The Double Bike first and didn’t have to wait your turn.
One freezing day I arrived at recess and watched as my youngest –who didn’t know I was there– bent into a sprinter’s crouch, a giant grin on her face. “Are you ready?” she said to her buddies. “Get ready!” The door to the trike room opened and she and her friends zoomed toward The Double Bike. When I think of joy, I picture my daughter’s face that day, how her black hair flew behind her, the echo of her wild laughter.
Before Dark, by Wendell Berry
From the porch at dusk I watched
a kingfisher wild in flight
he could only have made for joy.
He came down the river, splashing
against the water’s dimming face
like a skipped rock, passing
on down out of sight. And still
I could hear the splashes
farther and farther away
as it grew darker. He came back
the same way, dusky as his shadow,
sudden beyond the willows.
The splashes went on out of hearing.
It was dark then. Somewhere
the night had accommodated him
—at the place he was headed for
or where, led by his delight,
Note: a version of this post first appeared here in 2017.