One October day that was dressing up in its traditional orange, red, and yellow fall outfit, a teacher friend of mine and I met for our regular fall walkabout; however, this one was a bit different. We usually head out to a trail that covers some ground and ends up at a view, but because Charlotte, his two-year old redhead daughter, accompanied us, the choice was Topsmead instead of a trail with a view. What fun we had experiencing Topsmead from a toddler’s eye level!
After I had admired Charlotte’s exquisitely small grey boots, we tromped over to the cutting garden at the south end of the house. What caught Charlotte’s eye first were the two-foot high, fall-blooming dusty-red sedums. We two adults viewed the sedums from above, and bending all the way down to smell them was not our first thought. Charlotte, on the other hand, walked right up, buried her nose in them, and then backed away, disappointed that they did not have a fragrance. Much more satisfying in terms of fragrance were the few pink blooms left on the phlox that were also right at her eye level. Next she bent down to the low-growing, yellow chrysanthemums, closely examined their spiky blossoms, and wrinkled her nose at their pungent fragrance. Clearly, she was having a more complete experience of the garden from her two-year old level than we adults were from ours.
Then it was on to investigate the large, very old juniper clump. How many of you know that inside that clump is the most wonderful vaulted space that feels as if, with some appropriate statuary, it could have been a chapel? But there wasn’t much in there to hold Charlotte’s attention so, even though we two adults would have been content to stay sitting on the two big rocks inside the space, we followed her out onto the back lawn and over to Miss Edith’s cocktail veranda on the west side of the house. Charlotte climbed up into one of the veranda’s Adirondack chairs, and we three enjoyed having make-believe cups of tea. (Actually, we two adults were having make-believe daiquiris, one of Miss Edith’s favorite cocktails.)
Toddling off again in Charlotte’s wake, we stopped while she investigated the large apples fallen to the ground beneath the twisted old apple trees. She picked one up to take with us, but when she turned it over, she was yucked out to see that the underside was mealy and chewed on. When we explained that various critters and worms had already begun munching on it, she generously placed the apple back on the ground, yucky side down.
On the way back to the car, Charlotte tromped through the grass over toward the signs for the butterfly garden and the wildlife viewing blind. Rather than being interested in those two signs, Charlotte was captivated by the sign beneath them: “Keep dogs on leash.” Why? Well, it was right at her eye level, and it also had an image of her favorite animal—a dog.
After seeing Topsmead through the eyes of this curious little redhead with her adorable gray boots, I am thinking that sometimes looking through another’s eyes can be eye-opening. Thanks Charlotte!