A Morning With Jocelyn

My very occasional housekeeper, Margarita, appeared yesterday with her “tail.” That’s how Mexican people refer to their trailing children, she explained, and with spring break upon us, the tail meant a visit from ten-year old Jocelyn.

I first got to know Jocelyn when her worried mother asked me to evaluate her reading skills.  She feared Jocelyn wasn’t doing as well as she should be.  So armed with expert advice from one of my teaching friends, I met with the little girl, then eight-years old, only to discover she reads better than I do. I put Margarita’s fears at bay and that was that. But from the experience, Jocelyn and I have become buddies.

We sat on the sofa together for a while yesterday morning and conversation turned to homonyms, as it so often does. What? Not in your house? When we had wrung (rung) that subject dry, we headed out into the garden where Jocelyn wanted to see first-hand the inner workings of the compost pile. She was intrigued by where exactly the coffee grounds I had saved that morning were going to end up.

Imagine that. A little girl who flatly refused to watch TV because she said it would make her bored. And then she lit up with “Hey, that’s another homonym. Bored and board!” And looked at me proudly for approval.

Instead she wanted to help me in the garden. We trimmed and raked and filled wheelbarrows together while Jocelyn regaled me with stories about the bad boy who hit himself in the eye with a pencil and had to go to the nurse and her nice teacher, Mr. Dunnivan, and her visit to the Science Museum and her upcoming field trip to Jamestown and……you get the picture, right?

And as we headed off to the compost pile, she suddenly stopped and exclaimed “Oh, it’s beautiful! Look, Miss Barbara, it looks just like waves.” And I saw that the arborvitae I was passing by without notice was indeed covered in golden-tipped waves.

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When I praised her for being so observant, she beamed and said the bush was giving her “high-fives.” Oh sweetheart, I’ll never look at that bush the same way again.

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But here’s why I’m telling you this story. Just picture this: a little girl eagerly scooping up a handful of compost in total amazement and then raising it to her face to inhale.

“Oh, it smells so good. Just like what you buy in the store. I can’t believe it!”

Would it surprise you to know this made me choke up a bit? Well, it did. Nothing like child-like wonder at something I take completely for granted to change my perspective on beauty.

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We filled the wheelbarrow with black gold and headed into the garden. “Can I spread it?”   When she finished, she looked proudly at her work and said with such satisfaction, “Now it looks so much better. It’s beautiful.”

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Yes, honey, it sure is. And so are you. Thanks for letting me see my garden through your big brown eyes.

Thanks for reading,

Barbara

About Silver in the Barn

Life in a 1915 farmhouse in Central Virginia. And the odd thought or two.
This entry was posted in Garden, Random Ruminations and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

149 Responses to A Morning With Jocelyn

  1. What a delightful and intelligent child! Your garden is the picture of Spring. We still have spots of snow on the ground. It should be gone by Sunday. Have to be glass half full!

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    • Well, Linda, for a while there it seemed as if you wouldn’t see the ground until the 4th of July, so Sunday sounds really good. I know you must be itching to get out there. Lovely to hear from you.

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  2. joannesisco says:

    Oh Barbara – that’s exactly what life is all about, isn’t it?!! Discovery and rediscovery. Time spent with a child always brings that lesson home. When my boys were young there were often days I wondered who was learning from who.

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  3. This is so beautiful. I hope she visits you again soon – sounds as though you enrich each other!

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  4. John says:

    How sweet! As adults, it would be great to retain this view of the world around us.

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  5. Kevin says:

    Jocelyn seems like a sweet very intelligent little girl and your post about her is very much a delightful read. It’s funny how much you can tell just by reading about someone. I can tell for instance that Jocelyn has at least a few adults who care deeply about her and who aid her in her discovery of the world around her, who foster love of discovery/learning and support her as she grows. I can tell that the one who writes about her is both a talented writer and a deeply caring lady, well done and write on!

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    • Oh, if that isn’t the nicest comment I’ve had in a long time. Thank you so very much, but I submit that nobody could be immune to Jocelyn’s charms. And she is lucky to have two very devoted parents who do everything for her except provide her with a mobile phone! Good for them!!

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  6. Carrie Rubin says:

    Oh wow, if only we had more Jocelyns in this world–both in child and adult form. I love her enthusiasm, and within it, there’s a lesson for us all.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. How sweet. Yes often children give us a new perspective on things and make us see beauty we don’t normally see in our every day lives. How lovely for both of you!

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  8. Leya says:

    A true gem, this girl. I hope she will grow and thrive and stay curious – and get bored with certain technology. I quite envy you there – hopefully you will meet often!

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  9. I predict great things for Jocelyn; she’s certainly a special kid. My experience with domestic help wasn’t so good. My lawn guy said his kid “had the heart of a lion” Then I found out he wasn’t waxing metaphorical and young Pablo had indeed been banned from the Honolulu Zoo for life. Snorf, snorf.

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  10. Jodi says:

    Oh Barbara – goosebumps on my entire body when I read your last sentence. What a beautiful story – what a beautiful lady – what a beautiful little girl! High Five!

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  11. Mary Ellen says:

    Very precious and she will remember your day together for years!

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    • I have a friend who has a friend who always asks “what brought you to gardening?” Wouldn’t it be cool if the compost pile was what did the trick for Jocelyn. And is the snow gone in Michigan? Is the veggie garden getting ready for planting? Have you packed the parkas away yet? XXX

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  12. Sue Mayo says:

    What a delightful child. Jocelyn must make her parents and teachers very proud.

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  13. A.PROMPTreply says:

    What a wonderfully written post and what wonderfully special girls you both are!

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  14. Windy Mama says:

    I think you just officially experienced spring renewal thanks to Jocelyn. Did you know the name Jocelyn means “happy, joyful”? How’s that for perfect.

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  15. Pat S. says:

    Your post brought tears to my eyes for two reasons. The first is because Jocelyn is the age I used to teach and my classes would make a running list of homonyms on shelf paper as an ongoing challenge thought out the year. I think a record was 240. When a student thought of a new one to add to the list, the excitement was almost uncontainable. Is it any wonder I love this age level and, oh, what a treat to have had someone like Jocelyn in my class! The second reason is because I just ended a day with our six year old granddaughter who is thrilled to be learning how to knit. (She is turning into an addict like her grandmother). And is up for anything, even learning how to make deviled eggs and cutting the white part in half more expertly than her teacher. We need never underestimate what these young minds can do and learn. How wonderful of you, Barb, to instinctively open your world to this delightful child and her imaginative mind. What a delightful day for you both!

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    • And you may not remember my asking for teaching advise, Pat, but you helped me be prepared for what is not an easy job. I can’t tell you how relieved I was that the little girl was reading like a whiz. I don’t underestimate the impact teachers have on the lives of their young charges, not for a second. I remember as a child thinking of flour/flower and being SO EXCITED! I’m laughing right now at the memory. And sweet Rose is knitting? Another thing you taught me, come to think of it, o great educator!

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  16. Nothing better than being reminded how beautiful our surroundings are…especially through the joyful eyes of a child. Time well spent, for sure. She will remember you always ! Van

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    • I hope over the years to have more of an impact on her, Van, if possible. Sometimes just seeing other possibilities in life can help keep these disadvantaged children on track. I certainly hope so. And she certainly has all the other advantages a healthy person needs, chiefly abundant care and love. Her parents are wonderful.

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  17. That was a real treat for you, a morning spent with a bright, confident and observant young lady. I hope she does not face the same struggles as the daughter of our Turkish builder (in France). We had known her from when she was seven….a young lady alive to everything around her and a delight to have around us.
    Despite her obvious intelligence and gift for languages she was slated by her school in later years for the stream which would turn her into a secretary, not an interpreter.
    Father tried reasoning with them…to no avail, so we called up the big guns in the education hierarchy…change of school, change of orientation…successful career with the EU.
    But what made me furious was the assumption that as the child of a Turkish immigrant she would be used to marry a young man from Turkey who would then get the right to live and work in France, so it wasn’t worth her following a career! How could teachers who had that girl in their classrooms ignore her abilities and lump her into a category born of their own prejudices?

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    • And this is my secret fear too, Helen. What will happen to this bright light if she isn’t provided with….more? Her parents are laborers and the salt of the earth. They care enormously for her welfare but are limited in what they could possibly offer her. Guidance counselors in schools are virtually non-existent in these parts or if available, completely overloaded. Jocelyn has a firm grasp on English and she is a US citizen, born in this country. I plan to keep my eye on her. I want so much for this little girl. As you did for the little Turkish girl. How fortunate she was to have you and yours in her corner.

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      • You will be there for her, ready to fight her corner as we were for this young lady…and not just us: the people in the hierarchy we were able to contact were one hundred per cent on her side.
        Her father said to me something that I had heard so often when I was working…’we don’t know enough to know what is it we should be asking for..’…he and his wife wanted the very best for their children in the context of the French society to which they had become assimilated…but, as ‘outsiders’ did not know how to achieve it in the face of discrimination by the very people who should be – for me – the guardians of our culture.

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      • Ah yes, the plight of the immigrant – not knowing what they don’t know. What has sickened us is learning the point to which her parents are exploited in the “workplace” because they are not legal….yet. Ten hour days without a lunch break? I could go on and on. Interesting little tidbit: her mother explained to me that the local police know the Mexicans are driving without licenses but don’t stop them because they know they have to get to work here in the county (often in the big farms.) An entirely different world is in existence right before our eyes, Helen. Now somehow – and I cannot for the life of me figure out how they did it – her parents have managed to buy a house. If I’m understanding the situation correctly, it is in Jocelyn’s and her brother’s name. Quite remarkable really.

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  18. Heyjude says:

    This is a lovely post Barbara. Children are such joy (most of the time) and Jocelyn sounds like a young lady who will go far.

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  19. Grace says:

    Barbara, what a lovely story! There is nothing better than having the opportunity to look at the world through a child’s eyes. Thank you for sharing!

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  20. You know she is an interesting kid, because she is bored by TV. You had a great time, I could read it between the lines :-).

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    • Hi Bridget and I’ve been dying to talk to you, so I’m happy to see you here. I made a St. Clement’s cake for Easter and the key ingredient was almond flour (meal) which is what I had leftover from your Viennese Crescent cookies. And was it GOOD! And yes, what a cool kid who is not interested in TV. Made my day, actually.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Akire Bubar says:

    Wow, great post – made me smile. Thanks. 🙂

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  22. Great story and am impressed by that little girls. Let’s hope she will continue to be bored by television and continue in the delights of gardens and compost. Impressed by the coffee grounds saving for compost as we do the same.

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  23. nrhatch says:

    Damn it! Now I need a Kid Fix!!!
    Kids are so much FUN, overflowing LIVE WIRES.

    Thanks for sharing Jocelyn with us, Barbara.

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    • It’s true. I was dying inside as she was describing the “stupid” boy who flung a pencil onto his desk showing off only to have it fly back in his face. Little does she know how she will find these boys appealing in just a few years. Right now she is in the “harrumph, what a fool” stage!

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  24. That’s a special little girl and I’m betting you’re special to her too. What a sweet story.

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  25. Aww, that’s so sweet! Jocelyn is an angel! 🙂

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  26. dorannrule says:

    What a delightful child and a wonderful story. Seeing the world through Jocelyn’s eyes was a magical thing. And I do believe you have made a long-term friend. 🙂

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    • HI Dor! My occasional garden visitor is a source of great delight, you’re right. The sun is shining….temps reaching seventy in Richmond today….hope the mountain weather is good for you too this weekend!

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  27. Angie Mc says:

    Jocelyn and your encounter are darling.

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  28. She is just precious, Barbara- and what a wonderful time she must have had with you 😉 It sounds like she is a budding gardener already- and really in love with it. Yes, such a privilege to see our garden through another’s eyes.. especially the eyes of a child. Giant hugs, WG

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    • Thank you, Elizabeth. What struck me with her was the infinite curiosity. I’d forgotten that about kids!

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      • That’s why I love 12 year olds! I used to keep a classroom full of animals when I taught science- and I had teams of kids who came in early every school day to care for them and visit- and then kids who would take the hamsters, etc. home with them over breaks. The enthusiasm is contagious 😉

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      • Your blog is testimony to what a marvelous teacher you are, Elizabeth. I know your kids must remember those classes. One of my BFFs is a retired teacher and one of her great joys now is when she hears from former students or parents of students letting her know how much she affected their lives. I’m sure this has happened to you.

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      • That is very kind, Barbara. Thank you. I loved teaching and miss the kids. Working with young teens teaches you so much- seeing life and living through their eyes keeps one fresh and young 😉 I don’t miss all of the paperwork and weekend grading, however 😉 If you happen to have any ‘leftover’ bedding plants/ flowers- I bet Jocelyn would love to tend them for the summer 😉 Hope you and R are having a weekend of re-charge and re-juvenate 😉 Hugs, E

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  29. rixlibris says:

    “And children’s faces looking up,
    Holding wonder like a cup.”

    From “The Barter” by Sara Teasdale.

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  30. Kids are so good at making us stop and re-value something we can take for granted.

    And I hate to be a pedant but I believe your examples are homophones. Homonyms, by my understanding, are spelt and pronounced the same but have different meanings (eg address, arm). Homophones are words that are spelt differently but sound the same.

    And now, because you probably want to hit me, I’d like to distract you with my favourite homophone song. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Are we not splitting hares hear? I see my friend is fully recovered from jet lag and is back to keeping me straight for which I am grateful. OK, on the video, I have to admit that my favorite bit is the narrator’s pronunciation of “Larry.” Veddy upper-class. COL!!

      Liked by 1 person

  31. This post made me cry with its beauty. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  32. What a doll … and a gift to you!

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    • You’re exactly right, Alison! And I fully expect you will not be seeing this comment until much later today because it is far too beautiful outside to even be thinking of blogging. Why am I still at the computer??

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  33. I read this last night and it made me a bit emotional.. so I waited till this morning. Sweet you have this relationship.. you and Jocelyn. She will remember these moments with you forever and I love how you are obviously loving the time enjoyed with her. Love the “high fives”… Jocelyn has a wonderful sense of funny! Very sweet.

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  34. I admit that I teared up when you got to the “Oh, it smells so mice part.” Lovely story on a lovely young lady.

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  35. M-R says:

    How delightful to be shown that there are children in the world who bring joy rather than pain. I suspect it has to mean that Jocelyn is not part of a peer group; as I blame that culture for most of today’s horrendous problems.
    Thanks for this, bB !

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    • I know just what you mean, M-R. Sadly. Of course she is a throwback to how many of us were raised – she is expected to do chores and take care of her little brother – what a concept! Ach, I feel my curmudgeonly inner self stirring……must suppress with more coffee. Hope you have a lovely day – it is sunny and warm here today and the birds are singing their little heads off!

      Liked by 1 person

  36. KerryCan says:

    A rare and special child! How lovely that you have her around and can enjoy that curiosity and enthusiasm–and her unique way of interacting with the world!

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    • I thought she seemed rare and special too. Admittedly my interactions with ten-year olds are practically nil……but I suspect the wonders of compost are somehow not a subject of too much interest to most of them!

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  37. Almost Iowa says:

    You grabbed my heart with the first sentence. I think back to all those mothers in the old neighborhood, dragging long, long tails. It wasn’t just the mothers who wore tails, the older kids did too. We walked our younger siblings to school, to the store, to the library… it was just part of life.

    What a delight Jocelyn is. You both are very lucky.

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  38. I have moments like this when kids visit my creatures. Specifically, little girls and horses. There is nothing more magical on the planet than little girls and ponies.

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    • My neighbor’s daughter manages a huge horse barn down the road from me. A few of her older horses and Prada the mule are in the field right next to mine. You’re right, almost all of Caitlin’s students are girls and their passion is unsurpassed. Do your kids just love the llamas? I know they must!

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      • The llamas do best with special needs guests and the elderly (such as visits to nursing homes). Kids like them, and they do reasonably well with kids, but they are made for a calmer crowd. The horses find their zen with children. The dogs love everyone.

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      • Interesting. Cherity, the very image of elderly people gently stroking a sweet llama is just enough to make my morning. And of course the dogs love everyone. I have occasion to visit a nursing home these days and sometimes bring Max. Such a JOY to see the elderly interact with him and his tail wags in that circular motion which means he is rather ecstatic.

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      • We once had a wheelchair bound man who hadn’t spoken in six months speak to the visiting llama. They seem to be made for that work.

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      • oh, that’s the most marvelous story! You need to write a post about it, Cherity.

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  39. kristieinbc says:

    That sweet girl would have had me choking up a bit too. What a delight to have been able to spend the morning with her and view the world through her eyes. It brings to mind why I feel strongly that some type of gardening should be incorporated into every elementary school. Lovely post!

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    • Oh now, wouldn’t THAT be a radical (and sensible) prospect? YES! I couldn’t agree more, Kristie, and not just because I’m a gardener. I’ve seen some gardening shows where inner city kids were exposed to community gardens and an interesting reaction was surprise at what actual fresh vegetables looked and tasted like. They had never eaten a carrot! OMG, what have we come to in some regards.

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  40. Eliza Waters says:

    This brought a tear to my eye as well, Barbara. To see the world through a child’s eyes is a precious thing. As is the wonderful the knowledge of gardening that she takes away from her visit with you. You never know the seeds we plant in young minds.
    One year I volunteered once a week in the kindergarten class here (empty nest syndrome!) to do nature/ecology/gardening things with the kids (No Child Left Inside) and I was always looking for that spark that told me I had touched them in a positive way.
    What a wonderful effect you must have on Jocelyn and I’m sure your influence will stay with her all her life. That’s a beautiful thing! ❤

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    • Well, what a terrific idea the “No Child Left Inside” program is (was?) It is so good to know that there are others who value the therapeutic and educational benefits gardening can bestow even to small children. And no surprise here that you would be involved in such a thing. On another note, we’ve had a lot of rain and today the sun is shining and temps will reach in the seventies, maybe even higher tomorrow. You can practically hear things popping out of the ground. I lost a LOT of things this winter but am happy with how much made it through. Hope your weekend is grand, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  41. Such a sweet story. And what a wonderful opportunity for Jocelyn.

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  42. Seeing things through a child’s eyes are always the best way 🙂

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  43. Barbara … Your experience with Jocelyn, who is a beauty, reminds me of Robert Frost’s poem, “Nothing Gold Can Stay.” That poem’s theme is precious moments, like a child’s innocence, slips away and we need to appreciate it while we can. I told my students (this poem is in the novel, “The Outsiders”) that adults often miss those special moments until a child points it out to them … just as Jocelyn did to you. 😉 Loved your story and your photos, too.

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    • I have always LOVED that poem. It’s been funny the last couple of days on the blogosphere, Judy, how many poems have been sent my way…..two Mary Olivers, one Sara Teasdale, and now this gorgeous Robert Frost. Wonderful.

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      • When I was a teen living in the country, I saw a sunrise like that once. Everything was golden. Then the sun rose higher on the horizon and the gold slipped away to be replaced by the green grass, white house, etc. It was magical. I can just see Robert Frost witnessing that type of sunrise and putting his thoughts into a poem. 😉

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      • We get the sunsets here, Judy. I am astonished how quickly they fade away to nothing. In the time it takes for me to quick find my phone and race out to take a picture, the colors have changed already. You’re right, I’ll bet Robert Frost experienced similar things and gave us the gift of this poem.

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  44. She is such a wonderful, precious child. I bet she’s a good writer already using her imagination and words so well. don’t you just love kids who are “bored” with TV, that’s my kind of girl!

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  45. French Basketeer says:

    Barbara, how wonderful to discover your blog!! It sounds like a perfectly wonderful day, and how great that Jocelyn was able to spend the day with you like this….Wishing you a lovely weekend, I’m on your email list now!! all best, A

    Liked by 1 person

  46. shoreacres says:

    My prediction: a half-century down the road, Jocelyn will be re-telling the story of her days with you, to equally appreciative audiences. Functionally, you’ll have become her Dr. Long. Count on it.

    Liked by 1 person

  47. Outlier Babe says:

    Barbara, I read this a couple of days back and could not yet bring myself to comment. I know exactly what it means to have this wonderful little girl visit with you.

    I’m glad she brings her brightness into your life and very glad for her that she gets to experience yours.

    Liked by 1 person

  48. Gennie says:

    What a beautiful story, and you tell it so well! you make me want to have a compost pile 🙂

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  49. What a lovely happy-making story. I am so behind, I have been skipping posts and I’m so glad i didn’t miss this one.

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    • I am so behind too, Hilary. There are gardens to tend and life to be lived, right? Sigh, we do the best we can. I was just telling a friend about you the other day and how much your comment about the my Phantom son-in-law helped me. So even if you don’t always get a chance to leave a message, the ones you do mean something.

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  50. What a lovely story. That’s one special kid.
    Well told.

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