words cannot express how grateful i am for my family, all of them, near and far. emma was so much fun. i love to play with little kids. i will not pass up the chance to play marching band, hide-and-seek or blow bubbles. i’ve always thought 4-years-old was a peak of curiosity and wonder, creativity and energy. emma has all of that. many, many questions had to be answered as well as i could—sometimes you have to refer her to grandpa. grandpa took her down into the woods on the tractor and she “helped” him tremendously by telling him when the cart was full. she was my assistant when i watered the flowers and i watered her, too. she helped with snapping beans and setting the table, she tickled us awake in the morning and we told millions of knock-knock jokes that made absolutely no sense and then heartily laughed at our silliness. she’s such a city girl, asking “does grandpa take the train to work?” and occasionally embellishing her speech with a distinct new york accent. she loved the birds and even the bugs, and especially noticed (as i’d hoped) the summer sound of cicadas/tree flies. “i hear music…what is that?” i told her they were crickets and made their sounds by rubbing their back legs together. the next day she was drawing a picture that was a “pretty cool guy” “pirate” named “gilgert matey, you can call him matey” and as she worked, she asked again about the crickets: “why do they do that?” i told her that sometimes they were just talking and other times, when they get real loud, they are singing like a choir. she asked, “what do they say?” oh, stuff like: hi, did you have a good day? yes, i ate a lot of bugs! great, me too, let’s sing! “what do they sing?” well, happy songs. we admired her progress on matey, then i began another story, but she stopped me and said: “shh. listen: they’re singing Christmas.” i listened; she was right.