"I might become a runner," Janie comments. We jog in step, my stride shrunk down to seven-year-old size.
"I have been wanting to since I was littler," she adds. "I just watch and think, that looks fun." She swings her elbows in time with the pad-pad of her feet.
"I try it," she remarks, "and think, it's not really my thing, but I watch you and you make it look so fun." We drum on, our feet in time.
"I didn't really like it at first either," I say. "But now I do. I do it as a way to practice long-suffering." I glance sideways at her gangly legs, springy step, "That way when I have to suffer to make things good for you, I'm not surprised that it feels like this."
We patter on, mark out two miles of strides. We huff and puff and sweat. Even the creases around my nose sweat. Her forehead beads up, braids flopping down her back. We make conversation, talk of races and dogs and lawns that need water. And we practice.
1080. Silver strainer of fresh strawberries and Gramma's, "I've got a surprise for you inside."
1081. Eaten plump right out of the strainer, strawberries, a pile of green tops. Strawberry shortcake.
1082. Rosie signing MORE, and how she flaps her arms like a bird.
1083. Craig's almost-accident with the rototiller and his fully intact foot.
1084. A window for the hen house and Craig's scaled drawings.
1085. Grampa's almost-accident with the backhoe and the subsequent rush of affection for him.
1086. A traveling book saleswoman who stays for lunch and the polka-dot sweater we give her for the brisk day.
1087. Jane up at the crack of dawn to make breakfast. How she assembles oatmeal and cranberries, almonds, powdered milk. Her confident, "The milk tastes like popcorn," in order to get the children to drink her thick substitute for milk.
1088. Our children circled around the chicks, picture books in tow and how they take turns showing them the pictures.
1089. How Lulie tries to use a toothpick at dinner. Her broad smile and, "Could you please throw this away," as she flops its mangled form in my hand.
1090. Sun hats for the girls.
1091. Janie's confident,"I want to do the Spokenya Run," and her, undaunted, by the 4-miler as we train together.
1092. Her early birthday gift: new shoes, running shoes.
1093. Dish duty, a different child at each meal and how they help each other.
1094. A nugget of wisdom, that the best way to build trust is to make promises and keep them. A tool. An art form. A rubric.
1095. Jane's comment at the hardware store, "That was a farmer. I could tell 'cause his hands are big." And how I picture her Grampa and think she's right.
1096. A chicken magazine from Auntie.
1097. Drawing class, a bouquet of daisies and lilies, and how we all try to wrestle them to the page with bold lines.
1098. Great-Grampa ok after a fainting spell and how he laid down when it started so he wouldn't fall.
1099. How Jack and Lu take turns in the jog stroller and then ride on each other's laps when we train for our run.
1100. A cool evening swim at the pool, four children paddling around me.
1101. How Jack lofts an enormous dandelion umbrella up into the breeze. How he captures and lofts it again and again.
1102. Rainer cherries.
1103. Fresh lettuce.
1104. Basil leaves.
1105. My apology in the church parking lot to our four children, the part about me not leading well enough for us to be on time.
1106. Our children safe against Craig's chest as they sail Grampa's four-wheeler over miles of farmland and dirt roads. The thrill of wind and rain and summer blown through their hair.
1107. A man who makes even common dirt roads a thrill.
1108. The five of us anchored, expectant, secure.
1109. God's provision.