It has been a week of first grade, a week of walking to school. In the first short block we are often still grumping at each other, our not-yet-adjustment to the new schedule evident in sleep-mussed hair and rumpled feelings. But then we start up the steep and slim and winding part, stepping on the edges of our neighbors yards to avoid cars, and we all become more chatty. Next comes the gray gravel path that leads us to our first real crosswalk, and then, when there is time, the pause at “circle park” to rest a moment on the wooden bench amidst the lavender and rosemary. Then we start down the hill, along the way converging with the other walkers, until finally the growing stream of people flows down the steps, 122 of them, that take us under the oak trees and onto campus.
They will remember our route, there is no way they won’t. But will they remember the dog on Folger who ran down to get his owner’s newspaper from the steep driveway, wearing a bright red bandana around his neck? Or how slowly they walked in their search for the “perfect” acorns, and how for one this meant “plumpy” and green, for the other a slim nut brown, but for both an intact cap and a smooth shiny skin? (I am certain they will not remember the way that after they gathered them and make grand plans to plant oak trees and lure more squirrels to our yard, I found the precious “perfects” stuffed in pockets and piled in shoeboxes, forgotten to make room for more.)
They will probably remember the bee tree, the honey bees drifting out of it, gently buzzing awake in the morning sun. I think too that they will remember the bright blue Little Free Library, the one tree that starts dropping technicolor leaves before all the others, the way you can crunch out songs on the gravel path if you step in the right rhythm.
I know that I will remember how, after Jacob follows Mrs. Roberts inside, Lucas and I walk home just the two of us. We hold hands most of the way, his fingers “plumpy” and warm and sometimes still sticky from breakfast. We take our time about it. We find seed pods that rattle, and watch caterpillars on bushes, and when we are almost home we pause under the oak trees and listen for the Stellar’s jay who, when not screeching, has a surprisingly sweet song.
Lucas doesn’t start school for another couple weeks, so for now we have a daily lunch date at the kitchen table. He is fond of toast and yogurt and frozen peas (heated with butter on the stovetop until they are just lukewarm). I’ve been on an avocado-toast bender, but the last few days the temperature has dipped, and for two lunches in a row I’ve roasted sweet potatoes. The first day I went with butter and salt, but today I added “fresh lime juice and a shower of cilantro leaves,” taking inspiration from Chez Panisse Vegetables. Bright and citrusy, but still warm and roasty, it’s been perfect for these end-of-summer lunches. I’ve only got a couple more weeks of eating those lunches with this guy, but I imagine the sweet potatoes will last me long into fall.