1. Rosie-Tosie wanted to get on the boat.
2. In the pond in Linda's backyard.
3. Her backyard is a nature enthusiast's dreamland.
4. That's why she wanted to explore it.
5. The backyard.
6. The pond.
7. The boat.
8. I said yes and we trekked through the mud to the dock.
9. Birkenstocks are expensive.
10. Too expensive to walk through squishy, muddy yards.
11. Mud in Georgia is the color of fire.
12. When I was little I would squish it between my toes and watch the red slime spread over my foot.
13. I have my dad's feet and I hate that.
14. And I hate it when my sister tries to pinch me with her toes.
15. I was only mad for a minute, though.
16. I could replace the Birks.
17. This moment would be gone in a few breaths.
18. Her face was aglow with delight.
19. Her voice was filled with adventure.
20. I used to have that tone.
21. Living with your grandmother in the middle of 150 acres of land, one learns to love nature and all it has to offer.
22. Imagination runs wild.
23. You build huts out of twig frames and pinestraw siding and pray that the wind will subside until dinner time.
24. But now it's Rosie's turn.
25. She picks two flowers and puts them in her pocket.
26. On the boat, I tell her she is the Captain and she repeats, softly, "Taptan uh da boat"
27. Dropping the flowers into the water, she peers over the edge to watch them float away.
28. Children should learn to swim.
29. What are summers without swimming?
30. And drowning is one of the most common causes of death in toddlers.
31. I began swimming lessons at 9 months old.
32. I puked chlorine for 3 weeks.
33. My mom still dunked my fat head under the water.
34. Rosie isn't afraid of the water, she's intrigued by it, and I'm fascinated by her curiosity.
35. The boys are fishing beside us on the dock.
36. I watch in anticipation, wondering what her first sight of a fish will evoke.
37. A fish on a hook, no less.
38. She is tender hearted.
39. She gets that from Mema.
40. We all get that from Mema, and I'm proud that we do.
41. "I got one!"
43. She steps over and watches, eyes wide, as Matt unhooks and drops the fish back into the water.
44. We go back to the house.
45. But we don't walk through the mud.
46. We drive back on the golfcart, with Rosie on my lap.
47. Rushing in to tell Mema and Mama Pam what she has seen, she can hardly get the words out.
48. I adore my family.
49. We're not perfect, but who is?
50. I come from these people.
51. I see my face in theirs.
52. I feel Mema's compassion in my own heart.
53. I know they see my mother's vanity in me.
54. I try to hide it sometimes.
55. They think I'm wild and eccentric.
56. But I only look that way next to Candace.
57. She has always been my deepest contrast.
58. Her children are loves of my life.
59. I would raise them as my own right now.
60. I hope my own children are this adored.