Four-year-old Virginia and I set out on a fine fall day to walk the half-mile to pick up her older sister from school. I thought we’d take the short way there and the long way home. But time and distance are meaningless when I’m walking with Virginia, especially when there are leaves of many different colors on the ground, and pinecones, and stone retaining walls in front-yard gardens to practice walking heel to toe.
Nothing in nature escapes Virginia’s notice. She is especially fond of flowers and bright green leaves. Examining a neighbor’s garden, she found a paddle-shaped leaf as big as her hand and held it up to me. “Smell it!” she demanded. “Doesn’t it smell beautiful?” It did smell beautiful. It made me wish I knew the name of that tree. It made me curious about the way the world looks to Virginia: not just how it looks from her height, but the way it looks through big brown eyes managed by the unique operating system that is Virginia’s lively brain.
As we made our way to Eleanor’s school, I had to stop myself from hurrying Virginia along. Instead, I took her outstretched hand to steady her as she navigated another stone wall, and let her set the pace.
Virginia moves at the speed of flowers. It turned out to be exactly the right speed to get us where we needed to go.