Today Samuel wacked himself on the foot with a wooden spoon. I’d like to say it was an accident, but it really was quite purposeful. He had been banging an upside down laundry basket and enjoying the satisyfing thud of the spoon against the plastic. This is a fourteen inch piece of wood and he has quite an arm, so the noise was not insignificant. Then he had to start exploring what sounds he could make whacking the carpet and the floor and other surfaces, with a big smile on his face after each impact. When he unexpectedly and quite deliberately took aim at his foot, there was a loud smack. He did smile at first, but the smile quickly dissolved into dismay and bewilderment, followed closely by a simpering whine. Dawn was there in an instant, but sometimes you just have to say, “Buddy, it sucks to be you.” He did learn from his experience though. The wooden spoon lay on the floor well within reach for the rest of the afternoon and evening, but he never picked it up again.
Earlier in the day I volunteered to walk him and Rose down to the library so Dawn, who is sick, could catch up on some sleep. It’s about a twenty minute walk at Rose’s pace with Samuel in his wheels, and Rose chattered the entire way down. We had a warm spell yesterday, but overnight we went back to the mid forties. Fortunately there was no breeze and the sun came out so it was a comfortable walk, and even Samuel didn’t mind being confined to his stroller.
Our library was built over a hundred years ago, I think. A simple classical stone structure with some decorative columns in front. The interior is full of scrolled wood trim and heavy solid wooden tables and bookshelves. There is a small atrium with a fireplace, a wide carpeted staircase to the second floor, and wainscotting in the marbled bathroom. Several years ago, a children’s library addition was built. It has a separate entrance, and while the architecture blends nicely with the old building (the original exterior was left in place, and you can touch the stone wall in the stairwell), you can tell it is a more modern design inside. Not as classical perhaps, but the central air conditioning in summer makes it far more pleasant than the main building.
We took the elevator up to the second floor where it opens to a small enclosed foyer with a window facing the children’s library room. Food and drink are not allowed in the library, but this is a small town and exceptions are easily overlooked if not broadly flaunted. I sat with the children below the level of the window and fed them crackers and fruit leather, while Samuel kept pointing to the elevator and saying “See!” He wanted to see the elevator again and go for a ride. I wasn’t going to oblige him, but we started hearing a loud THUMP Thump Thump Thump THUMP Thump Thump Thump which kept repeating from somewhere beneath the floor. There is a room down there available for community events, and soon we heard people chanting along.
“That sounds like the Native American music we sang at my school, Papa.” And Rose was absolutely right. I assumed it was some event for children, not because we were in the children’s library, but because there had been an unusually large number of children milling about the building for a Saturday morning, and they had all disappeared. So we decided to go “See!” We took the elevator down and stepped into the foyer just outside the meeting room. There was a large floor-to-ceiling glass window, so we could see inside pretty well without having to squeeze through the crowd. The room was packed with parents and children. I didn’t recognize any of them, but they seemed like a familiar type of crunchy graDawn crowd I’ve run around with for years. In the center of the room was a large native American drum, about four feet across. An older woman sat in front of it beating it with a wooden mallet. Several children, all preschoolers, stood around the drum beating it with the hands at the same time. They were all chanting together, the entire room, and these were the words:
The wheels on the bus go round and round
Round and Round, ROund and round.
The wheels on the bus go round and round
All over town.
Samuel began to pout, and Rose looked at me and said, “Papa, I don’t want to go in that room.”
If nothing else, my children have excellent taste. It reminded me of an incident about three years ago, when Rose was nearly two years old, we went to the Anchorage Folk Festival where I was performing with my Old Time string band. Our band was practicing in the hall, so Dawn took Rose up to see the performances. She came back fifteen minutes later with Rose on her shoulders crying and saying, “Stop! Stop!” and Dawn was laughing. She told me that there was a group of dancers on stage in silver bolos and fluffy starched petticoats with metal clogs tapdancing to disco music by The Village People, “YMCA” if I remember correctly. Apparently, not ten seconds into this performance, Rose started screaming, “Stop the music! Stop the music!”