Penny has an impressive formal name with many syllables. Followed by a middle name. I have problems with long names and stick to Penny. That suits her slight, elfin look. She has just completed three years. Her yellow frock sets off her small frame and a pair of radiant brown eyes. She has beautiful silken blonde hair. Lest those undisciplined locks get into her eyes, Monica ties some back in a small tuft. It turns every which way as she runs out to me.
In the time it takes me to park the car and get out with a handbag, she swiftly crosses the porch, negotiates the steps and reaches me. She has a big smile on her face. It is not because she is greatly attached to me. I come so rarely that I am scarcely a very familiar face. She has observed my interaction with her mother and knows that her mother has a special bond with me. She has inferred that she too is rather special for me. Her enthusiasm to greet me promptly has something to do with that.
She quickly reassures me, “Mommy is inside,” and adds, before I could ask, “Daddy is upstairs.” And before I could make a move toward the entrance, she comes closer to examine my car.
“It is blue,” she offers a well-considered judgment. From her smile, I infer that my car has received her approval. She points to two other cars in the parking area, “That is mommy’s car. That one is Daddy’s.”
With that, her interest in locomotion ends. She points to two small birds sitting on the long cable line. As if in response to our interest, one of the birds – may be both – give a brief but spirited chirp. That feisty blast is not lost on little Penny.
“They are hungry,” she promptly concludes, “they haven’t had their breakfast.”
“You may be right, Penny,” I say doubtfully. I know nothing of birds’ dietary routine.
Penny promptly takes my words as an affirmation of the birds’ need for nourishment.
She says, “Come with me.”
In a few minutes, she has gathered a handful of berries from her parents’ garden on the front lawn. She wants me to help. Together we gather what should be enough to feed, not two, two dozen birds or more. Now Penny wants the berries to be placed on the sidewalk in a box pattern. “They are very hungry,” she tells me. “They will love this breakfast.”
She would have doubtless wanted us to stand aside and watch if the birds came to make a feast of the berries she so carefully arranged for them. But, at that moment, appeared Monica at the entrance door.
“Oh, you have already come!” She comes forward and kisses me. It is lovely to see my daughter again and hug her.
“I was looking for Penny in the house and couldn’t find her,” she says. “That’s why I came out to see if she was on the porch. Good that she was with you.”
“She was very busy trying to arrange a decent breakfast for birds,” I explain.
Monica smiles. She knows her daughter well. She says, “Well, I have arranged breakfast for us all. Let us get going before it gets cold.”
It is a beautiful, bright, leisurely Saturday morning. Monica or her husband does not have to go to work. We sit and drink coffee together for a long time. We chat and Penny joins us with her occasional comments. Her mother has served her a bowl of grapes and, with great generosity, she offers me a couple of them. Taking them from her little hand, the grapes taste better than any grape I have ever had.
Monica suggests I stay back and have lunch with them. We decide we will all have pizza and I confess my weakness for pepperoni pizzas. But, I tell them, I have to go out and do a few chores before I come back for the pizza treat.
I kiss Penny before I go out. As I step out the door and walk to the car, I notice as many as four birds hovering near the garden. Two look content, appearing to have had a decent breakfast, and the other two are still finishing their meal. Yes, the berries Penny so considerately left for them on the sidewalk.