My 11-year-old daughter G. sleeps with the window open just inches from her head. From her bed, she sees leafy branches of an ash tree and watched since April buds unfurling into the green that’s now turning to a canary yellow. In one of the few pounding thunderstorms this summer, I slipped into her room in the middle of the night. She lay awake. Her side of the house was mostly sheltered from the storm, and she wanted the window left open, with a smattering of cool drops blowing through the screen on her cheeks. “I like it,” she said.
The room of her childhood.
Late summer, I stacked a portion of our firewood between three straight-trunked ash trees beside her window, in an isosceles triangle. One side I left open, for a entryway. A younger child would have delighted in the three-cornered playhouse, but this child slept with her soccer jersey – number 21 – on the floor beside her last night.
Nonetheless, what composes her childhood room view – leaves on slender branches, woodpile with a beckoning in, and, further beyond, wild elderberry bushes and the old woods road where one afternoon we saw a shaggy-furred bear noiselessly passing by – are the gateway near her head to the wider world, imprinting on her memory as she sleeps.
O it’s I that am the captain of a tiny little ship,
Of a ship that goes a sailing on the pond;
And my ship it keeps a-turning all around and all about;
But when I’m a little older, I shall find the secret out
How to send my vessel sailing on beyond….
– Robert Louis Stevenson, “My Ship and I” in A Child’s Garden of Verses