The chauffeur picked me up at the airport, on my May trip north to Alaska, and I joined Lady Baby riding in the back seat. She gave me a welcome (so it seemed to me) smile, but it might also have been her general good humor on display.
She’s grown – definitely a solid cherub package now, with strong legs and arms. But she retains her cheerful nature – willing to give the staff a chance to do their jobs without issuing imperious demands, amused at our antics. She seems often to be thinking: “What will they do next? – Oh well, I’m game!”
Pure looking is still enormously important to Lady Baby, but when she sets her eye on something now, she uses her hands with more coordination to deliberately reach, clutch, and hold fast. She’s very fond of grasping hoodie strings (often part of the staff uniform at Downtown Abbey).
Portraits of ancestors line the stairway there, and when going upstairs for a change of clothes or scenery, she likes to pause and hear a few portrait stories. I tell her about her dad, 6 years old in Chester, England with book tucked under his arm, or her maternal grandpa, young and posing by a “Welcome to Alaska” sign, her aunt and uncle smiling and happy, on their sunny summer wedding day.
Joining us at the dinner table, Lady Baby ate her first solid food while I was there –– rice cereal, bit of banana, and mama’s milk in a well-mashed and well-received combo. She sits in her pink-padded highchair with shoulder harness, like an alert and eager paratrooper about to launch.
Her low down seat is also great fun. She’s happily entertained there for periods of time – becoming the audience for Granny Katy’s “cooking show.” I hold up individual asparagus spears and a red colander – explain cumin and sweet potatoes. I ask her if she thinks we can cook five or six tortillas on one baking sheet?
She looks quizzical when I ask such a question – and sometimes answers with her sounds of effort – low down and throaty or excited and loud. I’m not sure of her meaning, but she’s amiable about my performance and cheers me on while we get dinner cooked. We have such a good time together.
And Alaska summer is coming – we sat on Downtown Abbey’s tiny front porch and watched the neighborhood world on view – kids playing across the street and passersby on the sidewalk.
Her birth in the winter’s nadir seems so long ago, when snow fell endlessly and her dad called her “a true child of winter.” Now with long daylight and budding trees – Lady Baby is a summer baby!