Monday, March 1, 2010

A Perfect Moment

The realist in me wants to say there is no such thing as a perfect moment. But, I found one filed away in a childhood memory.

First, some background. I was born in Illinois on an Air Force base and we soon moved to another base in Texas. When I was about three years old, my parents divorced and my mother, who was pregnant with her fourth child, packed up her other three children and moved us back to her hometown in Indiana. We lived in a tiny cinder-block cottage on my grandparents' property. It was my third home in three years of life.

The moment I remember must have been when I was close to four years old and was in early fall because my older brother and sister were at school and the leaves were still green with just touches of color beginning here and there. The sky was as blue as one of my crayons with cotton ball clouds. I had awakened from a nap after lunch and sat playing on the steps to the door of the cottage. On a rare day, my mother was home instead of at work so I had no apprehensions of being left with a babysitter and my baby sister was napping so there was no opportunity to coax her into a smile. I was left to the company of my constant companions, a stuffed panda and a handmade bear that had been my mother's. Both were dressed up in doll clothes and sat unmoving in my second-hand toy baby carriage. We had finished our tea party with painted metal teacups, saucers and teapot neatly stacked on a plastic plate that served as the tray.

My grandparents' property was part of a nature preserve so I was surrounded by the woodland sounds of wind in trees, birds and chattering squirrels. The field between our cottage and my grandparents' home had been left to grow tall with grass and wildflowers and on this warm autumn day dozens of butterflies came out to play among the blossoms. The whirring sound of cicadas, or locusts as some call them, ebbed and flowed.

Sitting in a combination of the shade of a sycamore tree with its huge leaves and sun as the branches parted in rhythm with the breeze, I remember looking at the sparkles of light between the leaves and releasing a sigh. I was warm, fed, rested and safe and remember feeling totally at peace.  No one required conversation of me, no siblings were there to tease. The stitched on smiles of my teddy bear friends seemed to concur the bliss of the moment.

I still have those teddy bears. Now and then I take them out and recall that perfect afternoon.