Sweet Child of Hers


That Friday workday in February was absolutely spring-like.

Mid-day in Portland, the Time + Temperature building showed it was 55 degrees. What a bonus!

What a tease.

Lifting our spirits and making us realize spring was just around the bend.

The fact that it was school vacation, something I didn’t realize until mid-week due to being so far out of “kid” years, made it even more fun for families with time off. But we working folks relished it, too.

All week, as I took my half hour walk during my lunch break past the Portland Museum of Art, the Victoria Mansion, Park Street, and the historic homes of the West End, I watched families and tourists grabbing iced coffees at Arabica and Starbucks, consulting phones for directions, looking upward at the architecture of our downtown brick beauties. Many paused and looked at the artwork hanging in our city galleries.

The streets of the Old Port were buzzing with activity and people, laughing, chatting, exploring our charming, cobble-stoned city.

I snuck out of the office just after 5:00, carrying my long black coat, red plaid scarf, lunch bag and umbrella. They had predicted rain that never came that day. Having lived in London, I’ve always carried a long handled, old-fashioned, British umbrella. (I dream of being Mary Poppins; I’m kind of odd that way.)

Walking up the plaza in front of One City Center without socks or a jacket at that hour felt so freeing. It made me smile.

And then, just ahead of me on the sidewalk beside Longfellow Books, I saw a tiny girl, maybe five years old, wearing a skirt, puddle boots, and a headband that appeared to be…..sparkly kitten ears.

I was staring at this sweet little child as I was trying to figure out the headband. Her mom was fixing her hair and resetting the band on her head; they paused as the mom did so.

The child stared at me as I walked by, both of us kind of mesmerized with each other.

It was the moment, the setting sun, my happiness in heading home on a Friday evening – the girl and her mom just made me feel happy as I observed them.

And then, when I was right beside the child, her blue eyes looking up at me, she said so matter-of-factly, like she’d known me forever: “I like your cumbrella.”

“Umbrella,” her mom corrected her.

“Thank you,” I replied to the child who with her long brown hair and round face, I couldn’t help but think reminded me of myself, so many, many years ago.

Just the passing connection to that sweet child touched my heart, lightened the load on my mind, and made me feel hopeful.

I began to hum as I turned toward the parking garage, eager to start my weekend, so happy to have encountered that child in just that passing moment.

Photo: Glenda Zi / Pinterest

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