Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Up the Vail Gondola

My oldest daughter, Anna Laura, was on my on my back. We were hiking Hoosier Pass; I carried Anna Laura in a backpack and Kyndall carried Alexandria.

From time to time, we would pass people and I always try to get Anna Laura to say “hi” to people. In part I want them to note how adorable and how smart she is, but I also want her to grow up friendly and not shy.

In between people I was trying to tell her what she might say to a person – small talk. I said, you can say “hi” or you can say “isn’t it a pretty day?” She never really took to it, but she will say “hi” on demand and wave to almost anyone.

That night we headed up the Vail gondola for dinner. It’s a seriously pretty place – and the restaurant has an unexpectedly elaborate menu. But shortly into dinner a storm blew in and by the end of the meal they had shut down the gondola for lightening.

Normally these things are no big deal, but unexpected delays with kids are never the first choice. Shortly, the rain slowed and they opened the gondolas for a quick push to get some people down the mountain.

This time, instead of a nice family gondola ride we got to share it with strangers - a couple from Denver who I had not noticed in the restaurant. It was dark, a little windy, still raining and generally gloomy.

Anna Laura sat beside me on the bench looking at the strangers. I was mostly in a daze. She stared at the couple for a minute and then suddenly said, “isn’t it a pretty day?” We all had to smile at her cordial obliviousness.

When I was driving into work today I considered how I often make the same mistake. I ask simple questions without taking time to observe the obvious disconnectedness of what I am saying. If only I were 3, and people just thought it was cute that I was trying.

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