On warm summer evenings, when I was a little girl, my dad would sit outside in his brown metal chair, and say he was “watching the world go round.”
As he gazed out across our land, he possessed a perfect view of the sunset-as the pinks, oranges, reds, yellows, and purples danced across the sky, before retreating below the horizon.
Even more so than observing the sun set across his farmland, my dad enjoyed watching his three daughters play outside. My sisters and I spent countless hours riding our bikes up and down the circle drive, hula hooping, jump roping, and playing catch with each other. Because we lived on eighty acres in the country, my sisters and I spent as much time outdoors as indoors.
When I think back on my childhood, I see the silhouette of my dad sitting in his brown chair, drinking his Orange Juice and Vodka after a long day’s work in the city, and watching his little girls play outdoors.
Life moved slower back then. My sisters and I had no concept of time. Once the sun went down and the fireflies appeared, with their tiny lights twinkling across our lawn and pasture, we knew it was our cue to go inside for the night.
I can close my eyes and am transported back to those summer evenings on the farm. The smell of nature: of grass, dirt, and livestock, wafts by me once more. I can hear the chirping of crickets, grasshoppers, and the bullfrogs calling from the ponds. The rooster crows one last time before retreating to his roost, and the cows moo from the back pasture.
Twenty-five years later, and I sit outside once again, watching my own children play in the yard. I live in the city instead of the country, and my family’s little plot of land measures less than a half-acre. My kids are younger, so I am more hands-on with them, and cannot simply sit back and observe from a chair. My 9-month-old ambles across the driveway with the help of her walker. My toddler rides his toy car up and down the driveway. My preteen stepdaughter practices her soccer skills for Saturday’s game, as Dad plays goalie, and blocks her kicks.
When the sun is preparing to set, our family begins our short walk around the neighborhood. I push my toddler in his umbrella stroller, while my husband pushes our daughter in the travel system stroller that holds the infant car seat. My stepdaughter joins us, leading the way as she rides her streamer-adorned bicycle.
These sunset walks are my family’s own tradition. We wave at the neighbors as we pass by, our little family of five on an evening stroll. The sunset is still awe-inspiring, even if the view is more obscured now with city lights and nearby houses instead of the wide-open expanse of my dad’s farm.
The world keeps turning. The days become night as the sun sets in a final dazzling display before it sinks below the horizon. Fireflies flicker across our front and backyard. Soon enough, my babies will become toddlers, then preteens, then teenagers, then adults.
But for now, I sit on the wicker chair on the front patio, like my dad did many years ago. Slowing down and breathing in the fresh air. Watching my children play outdoors as I relax at the end of a long day. Living in the moment instead of rushing to multitask or worrying about the future. Taking time to stop and, as my dad once said, “Watch the world go round.”