A few days ago, I was in front of the house gathering lilacs. I've been doing it each day - sometimes twice - because lilac season, you know, it's just so short and it's just so special. I want to smell them in every corner of the house. With one bundle of it tucked under one arm, and my pruners in the other hand, I wasn't looking up but rather at the violets on the ground when I literally ran into Adelaide. And she ran into me because she was walking just the same - looking down at something or other with an armload of lilacs, a handful of lily of the valley, a pocketful of forget-me-nots, and scissors in her hands (time to get that girl her own pruners, I think). We both laughed and then set to making a plan, "well, I was going to do the bedrooms" she said. "And I was going to do the kitchen and the front hallway" I said. Not missing a beat she replied "These lily of the valley need to go in the green teapot, don't you think? Not your grandmother's green teapot with the missing lid, but the tiny green teapot, the one Papa got for you for Mother's Day one year. Oh, and the ones in the vase in Gram's room really need to be freshened up. I'll do that."
Yes, my girl. Yes, yes. Perhaps, I thought, she's been watching me. But I can't rightfully claim all the credit. She spends a whole lot of time with this flower goddess and has certainly picked up a thing or two there (without a doubt her creative arranging did not come from me, but from Stacy!). But more than all of that influence from the women in her life, this girl of mine just pays attention. She knows when those Lily of the Valley are about to open and announces on the morning that they do. She remembers that they were my grandmother's favorite flower and Steve's grandmother's favorite flower too. And she remembers that they were here, growing in between the front steps, on the day her little sister was born, the very first spring we lived here.
I think about Mary Oliver's often-quoted (understandably so) line "Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it."
Pay attention. At the age of ten, she's got that dialed. At the age of almost forty, I'm trying every day. Having so many teachers certainly makes the effort more delightful.