Blow Candles No More

November 4, 2009

Dear Papaito,

The Asian baby who sat on your seat today was wearing a cute little navy blue coat, with white strips along the sleeves. He looked like a young sailor about to set off on a journey. Why, maybe he was a sailor. Maybe his mother, and all of us at the café, had simply not noticed. Yes, that could be.

While his mother fed him not-Sailor-food, Baby raised his chubby little arm and pointed to something outside. Curious to know what could catch a sailor’s eye on our window, I let my gaze follow his cue. There, past the windowpane and under heavy rain, stood Tree. Tree, yellowing and thinning with Fall, shivered with cold. Tree had forgotten his sailor’s coat at home.

Encouraged by a little gush of wind, Tree raised an arm and waved a shy hello to Baby. Baby giggled and clapped excited. At this point, his mother wondered about the cause of her son’s enthusiasm. She looked outside, but found nothing of interest there. No dog. No fancy stroller. No boxes wrapped in ribbons. So Mother contended herself with directing a disinterested ‘oh! nice!’ to her son, clueless as to what she was referring to exactly.

Baby did not mind. Mommy often did this, and she didn’t know he was aware of it. Often Mommy had no idea whom he was talking to, or who his new friends were. This time a cat, that time an MTA employee. He winked, chatted and laughed with everyone. Even people mommy would not talk to. So Baby had a dozen or more friends Mommy did know of. And now there was Tree.

Indifferent to his new friend’s boring mother, Tree was busy praying for a stronger wind. Without one, he would soon lose Baby’s attention. Baby had waved, and Tree had not been able to respond in kind. “Please, please, wind!’ Tree prayed. But there was no reason to fear. Baby knew how to wait for Wind. Not for nothing was Baby a sailor.

And Wind came. A strong, whistling Wind in a gray coat came and shook Tree’s arms. ‘Thank you!’ cried Tree, immediately waving eagerly to Baby and throwing a thousand sparkling yellow leaves up into the sky.

Yay! Baby threw his arms up in the air with joy. He wanted to be outside, under the shower of gleaming leaves. Tree was so cool! Maybe Tree would even come sailing with him.

More puzzled than before, Mother looked outside again. Again, nothing met her eyes. Nothing but rain, an empty street and a tree.

Mother folded her newspaper. She picked up her son, and sat him on a stroller. In a couple of minutes, they were gone. Maybe Sailor would meet Tree on his way out?

And alone again at our corner, I am left wondering at what unfortunate point in our lives we cease to See when we see…. So Papaito, what else do you suppose gets blown away when we blow candles on a cake?

J.

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