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familiar verses TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2011

Smells Through all the frozen winter My nose has grown most lonely For lovely, lovely, colored smells That come in springtime only. -Kathryne Worth Amabel and I are at the table, with the precious February sunshine streaming through our windows, reading poetry. We are reading from The Random House Book of Poetry for Children (which, according to the inscription, was a gift to me from my childhood best friend, Anna, in 1986). Amabel wants to read all the poems on witches and ghouls (and there are some creepy ones in this particular volume!). Today I am gravitating towards wintery poems. . . hoping to find a little bit of inspiration to carry me through the days ahead. Then we come to the chapter with particularly silly poems, and one strikes Amabel as so hilarious - and her laugh is so contagious - that I hope we won’t wake Ellen from her afternoon nap. From the time she was a tiny toddler, and even before then, Amabel has loved poetry. She would sit on my lap for hours, happily listening to every nursery rhyme in the book over and over again until I had them all nearly memorized. But Amabel’s hunger for stories grew so rapidly that we jumped into story and chapter books, and in the bustle of a new baby (who quickly became a busy toddler) most of our poetry stood waiting on the shelves. Now that Ellen has taken a liking to all the familiar verses, Amabel is back in her place, right next to me, delighting in the rhythm of the words all over again. When she sees her delight reflected in Ellen’s giggles, Amabel’s whole face lights up. And thus as we read the old rhymes together, I see so clearly how very little she still is, our wide-eyed, first-born daughter. This is one of Ellen’s many gifts to Amabel - the gift of being ‘young’ again. Alongside Ellen, Amabel has rediscovered many simple joys that she left behind when she took on the role of big sister. After pulling out all our poetry books recently, I was filled with gratitude for the joy of doing it all over; for Amabel’s renewed love of poetry; and for all the years of nursery rhymes still ahead of us. 9

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