April 01, 2012

For the garden

The little girl who answered the door was not shy at all. Dressed in bright purple and pink and green, she pranced about the room like a fast-moving spring flower. She pounced on With-a-Why, my tall teenage son: “Do I look like a first grader? Do you play the piano? Have you watched Willie Wonka?”

“Hyacinth, you play quietly,” her mother said. She pushed the little girl gently into the kitchen, where I could see toys and games on a table. Then she turned to With-a-Why, who was standing in the doorway, holding a folder of sheet music. He had not said a single word.

“Ready to sing?” the woman asked. I sat down at the dining room table with my book, while they retreated into another room for With-a-Why’s voice lesson. Just as soon as the singing began, the little girl popped back into the room. I closed my book. I don’t get many chances to play with a five-year-old.

“Are you good at craft?” Hyacinth whispered. Craft, it turned out, meant using grown-up scissors to cut out her drawings. Her green scissors were missing, she explained, and she needed me to use the black ones.

I cut out the first drawing It was a large purple triangle, long and a bit irregular, but definitely a triangle. I turned it sideways. Maybe it was a flag? Hyacinth turned the triangle so that the two longest sides led upwards to a point.

“That’s how it goes,” she whispered, mindful of the lesson going on in the next room. She’d quickly figured out that she could talk whenever With-a-Why was singing. His deep voice covered both of ours.

She handed me another drawing. It was another purple triangle. I cut that one out. Then she handed me the next drawing. Another purple triangle. She’d been drawing all morning, it was clear, and she’d worked so hard that the purple marker she was using had run out of ink.

She lined them up on the table while I cut, being careful to follow her sometimes squiggly lines. Twelve crooked purple triangles, all listing to the right.

“Tell me what we’re making,” I whispered.

 She looked at me in surprise, like it was obvious. “Gnome hats.”


Anonymous said...


sheepish said...

That's awesome! I did not see that coming.

kathy a. said...


Jodie said...

But of course!

Cindy said...

Purple hats are what fashionable gnomes wear.

Martha Spong said...


Rana said...


(This provoked a chortle from D, too.)

susan said...

a wonderful image for a Monday morning. Thanks!

BrightenedBoy said...

Ha ha ha yes.