Sunday, June 6, 2010

Glorious Summer & My Barefoot Boy

Blessings on thee, little man,
Barefoot boy, with cheek of tan!

I was starting to fret when the sun refused to shine this late Spring / early Summer - our last - in Londontown. But finally, with only the occasional cloudy day, the British summer has pulled through magnificently for these - our last days here - and we have, gratefully and head-first - taken full advantage of it.

There have been numerous park outings, urban wanderings, and play dates at friends' homes - the latter involving babies, paddling pools, Pimms (for me) and strawberries and cucumbers (for Roman). It feels so nice to have a community here, and this glorious business of enjoying the summer with good friends is something I will dearly miss about our life in London.

While I do love the summer and the sun, and blooms and delicious and beautiful foods and moments that come with it, what I love more is watching Roman grow.

* * *

Watching Roman Grow
these last months in Londontown

He took his first real independent steps last Friday.
He's not quite walking fully yet, but he's getting there. And when he's upright and waveringly making his way in one direction or another, I can't help but feel so lucky to be able to be there to see it all. (Mostly so that one day when he's 20 I can remind him how he didn't always know how to get around on his own. :) )

He loves the sun and the water and crawling on the grass.
He chases puppies, picks (and eats) flowers, he jumps at bubbles and climbs on stumps. He tears at the grass, and hides under picnic blankets, and climbs on his "mama" when she tries to get some sunshine. He sneaks up behind me and gives me a hug, or plays with my hair and then licks my face with real pleasure and mischief.

He's never more glorious, more boy, more Roman, than when he's outside - barefoot and bold, as only summer - and a little boy - can be.

* * *

The Barefoot Boy
John Greenleaf Whittier (1855)

(Online Source)

Blessings on thee, little man,
Barefoot boy, with cheek of tan!
With thy turned-up pantaloons,
And thy merry whistled tunes;
With thy red lip, redder still
Kissed by strawberries on the hill;
With the sunshine on thy face,
Through thy torn brim’s jaunty grace;
From my heart I give thee joy,—
I was once a barefoot boy!
Prince thou art,—the grown-up man
Only is republican.
Let the million-dollared ride!
Barefoot, trudging at his side,
Thou hast more than he can buy
In the reach of ear and eye,—
Outward sunshine, inward joy:
Blessings on thee, barefoot boy!

Oh for boyhood’s painless play,
Sleep that wakes in laughing day,
Health that mocks the doctor’s rules,
Knowledge never learned of schools,
Of the wild bee’s morning chase,
Of the wild-flower’s time and place,
Flight of fowl and habitude
Of the tenants of the wood;
How the tortoise bears his shell,
How the woodchuck digs his cell,
And the ground-mole sinks his well;
How the robin feeds her young,
How the oriole’s nest is hung;
Where the whitest lilies blow,
Where the freshest berries grow,
Where the ground-nut trails its vine,
Where the wood-grape’s clusters shine;
Of the black wasp’s cunning way,
Mason of his walls of clay,
And the architectural plans
Of gray hornet artisans!
For, eschewing books and tasks,
Nature answers all he asks;
Hand in hand with her he walks,
Face to face with her he talks,
Part and parcel of her joy,—
Blessings on the barefoot boy!

Oh for boyhood’s time of June,
Crowding years in one brief moon,
When all things I heard or saw,
Me, their master, waited for.
I was rich in flowers and trees,
Humming-birds and honey-bees;
For my sport the squirrel played,
Plied the snouted mole his spade;
For my taste the blackberry cone
Purpled over hedge and stone;
Laughed the brook for my delight
Through the day and through the night,
Whispering at the garden wall,
Talked with me from fall to fall;
Mine the sand-rimmed pickerel pond,
Mine the walnut slopes beyond,
Mine, on bending orchard trees,
Apples of Hesperides!
Still as my horizon grew,
Larger grew my riches too;
All the world I saw or knew
Seemed a complex Chinese toy,
Fashioned for a barefoot boy!

Oh for festal dainties spread,
Like my bowl of milk and bread;
Pewter spoon and bowl of wood,
On the door-stone, gray and rude!
O’er me, like a regal tent,
Cloudy-ribbed, the sunset bent,
Purple-curtained, fringed with gold,
Looped in many a wind-swung fold;
While for music came the play
Of the pied frogs’ orchestra;
And, to light the noisy choir,
Lit the fly his lamp of fire.
I was monarch: pomp and joy
Waited on the barefoot boy!

Cheerily, then, my little man,
Live and laugh, as boyhood can!
Though the flinty slopes be hard,
Stubble-speared the new-mown sward,
Every morn shall lead thee through
Fresh baptisms of the dew;
Every evening from thy feet
Shall the cool wind kiss the heat:
All too soon these feet must hide
In the prison cells of pride,
Lose the freedom of the sod,
Like a colt’s for work be shod,
Made to tread the mills of toil,
Up and down in ceaseless moil:
Happy if their track be found
Never on forbidden ground;
Happy if they sink not in
Quick and treacherous sands of sin.
Ah! that thou couldst know thy joy,
Ere it passes, barefoot boy!

* * *

Some Glorious Summer Moments

Crawling in Hyde Park

Swinging in Wandsworth Park

Dangling fingers in the Paddling Pool


"If all the raindrops were lemondrops and gumdrops..."

Charming Harper.

* * *

PS: Happy Birthday Caaaa, best little sister ever.
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  1. Oh that was great, and I love that poem. If he's starting to walk now you'll be getting plenty of exercise chasing after him. I was admiring his Kurt Douglas chin - he's going to be having the girls chasing after him in no time - good thing he'll have plenty of walking/running experience by then. I love that second to the last pic - what a treasure!

  2. Thanks rat, your definitely the best big sister I could've ever dreamed of. Also, thank roman for his artistic masterpiece! I LOVE IT!:)

  3. Beautiful poem and such great pictures of Roman!

  4. Oh, he's so cute and when he's twenty he can read the blog post and see how everyone is gushing over him =). Summer is so here...rumor has it its going to be 80 degrees in London tomorrow. What?!

  5. Thanks for all the comments. :)

    Gastro: Cannot believe your good fortune re: London weather. We are in the US and having glorious weather as well - have to say, not exactly missing London!

  6. What a special little boy and a very lucky one to have such a lovely and loving mother! I think the sunshine is all due to his brilliant smile . . . 8-D