We went walking in Newport Rhode Island yesterday. It rained pretty good for the greater part of it, and it’s a testament to the charm of the place and our hunger to leave our premises that we spent all afternoon there.
Grandma had kidnapped the larger one, so we had to amuse only the three year old. That’s simpler, but more energetic. He wants to see things. Almost anything. But there’s a crisp definition of where you must not go to see interesting things: inside. So we saw many things throught the lens of intermittent rain.
Newport is an old city, and mostly made of wood, so I like it greatly. It has that nobility of utility too; people still live and work in what look like museums elsewhere. And the museums look like houses.
There was a magnificent life-size statue of George Washington on a five foot pedestal in front of the old library, a magnificent Palladian temple. There are two truly enormous trees standing athwart the spot, and they make a fantastic sort of bower for George to stand in, and the library behind. George made my little boy nervous.
He ran to the sidewalk, hid behind the enormous bole of one of the trees, and peered at George like he was some sort of wraith. He’s seen George many times of course, in different settings, but this iteration had him spooked.
It’s harder to make the big brother laugh now than the little one. Bad jokes require a punchline to get a rise out of him. You can’t just mugg at him anymore. But the little one’s still easy.
Let this serve as a declaration and confession to the citizens of and the visitors to Newport: I was the guy seen repeatedly sneaking up ninja-style on a statue of George Washington in broad daylight, reaching out a trembling forefinger to touch the toe of George’s bronze boot, and running away willy-nilly in a vaguely serpentine fashion while a very intimate crowd of small children and pretty women laughed at me.
Then that boy looked across the street, and I was yesterday’s newspapers. Like an oasis in the desert, a little shop that had dozens of miniature houses on display in the window appeared.
I’ve walked big dogs that have got a notion to get in motion all of a sudden, and they’ve got nothing on a three year old that wants to get across the street in a hurry. The dog doesn’t know how to turn his arm inside out to break your wrist and escape; the dog just puts all of his pounds to pulling. A three year old is a wily adversary.
Anyhow, we escaped calamity and made it across the street, and that boy looked in that window for ten minutes by the clock. He was like an astronomer discovering worlds. It was gloriously closed, to spare us the spectre of him traveling the length and breadth of it like Godzilla, and if they send me a bill for removing all the noseprints from the glass, including the larger ones up high, I will pay it gladly in exchange for the pleasure we had watching our son pick out his favorite one, the one with the little version of our own front entryway, and say in his little voice: “Deooharr!”
Why settle for one syllable, when you can make a whole sentence out of it?