When I lived in Alaska I found October and April the hardest months – shoulder seasons – too early for skiing and skiing mostly over. People find other things to keep them in the Far North, but for me the best reason for Alaska was being in the mountains with my family.
This April, snow still covered Anchorage yards. A boon for mountain goers, but with the dust of winter road sandings and no mitigating green on trees, it’s bleak in the city.
And great fun – maybe the best Lady Baby visit ever (but I always think that). She communicates so thoroughly now, often leaning conspiratorially toward us, and she is full of experimental language. Sometimes perfect words just pop out – not always repeated – but accidentally perfect in the moment.
At Downtown Abbey a steep set of stairs leads to the second story. Lady Baby climbs up lickety-split with a grown up right behind. But climbing down worries adults, and always at the top we admonish, “sit down please and come down backwards” – which she does with great agility. One day when I stood at the top of the stairs as she came up with her mom, she glanced up and said with much authority: “Sit down!” When such words slip out, they are in a different voice from the baby babble, a hint of the little girl to come.
Another time it happened outdoors. We were giggling and “racing” on the sidewalk – I pretended to pass her, and her laugh turned into ”Kaaty!”
Lady Baby’s parents wisely limit her screen time (as in no electronics). So her own cell phones come in many styles, as small as a domino held to her ear or a remote control of any stripe. She employs the rhythm of conversation as she carries one around: “Doy doy doy, nya, doy doy doy doy!” said emphatically or murmured conversationally. If the remote is big, sometimes her hand holding it slides round the back of her head, but she keeps talking. Most always she multitasks while on her “phone” – walking around inspecting things and pulling out and putting back toys into the under-couch storage boxes.
Her mother is a great mimic with an expressive face – and now she has worthy sidekick. Lady Baby’s first recognizable and enjoyable “shtick (I had to look this up – “any person’s idiosyncratic performance” – that’s exactly right) is the new frowny face she makes. One might be tempted to call it a scowl. Her parents call it her “most serious face,” and she loves to exchange it for her winning smile – first frown, then delight – enjoying the laughing and consternation of her audience. (Until you get that this is a game, it seems you have caused great sadness or irritation.)
Lady Baby – the best reason to be in Alaska!