Maia, at almost two, is fully immersed in life. She is such a totally sensual creature, it's a joy to watch.
Her two newest and favorite words now are "look!" and "see?" Yesterday, waiting for John to return from school, we sat in the driveway and sifted through the gravel. It was windy -- that hot dry wind that in August portends a stormy afternoon but in September turns into a gentle rainy night. She sat with eyes closed and arms out, feeling the wind, her mouth open and smiling. Then she opened her eyes, looked at me, and did a full-body sign-language interpretation of the word "wind."
She sorts through rocks, pronounces some "boo-ful," and makes me smell them. I have to smell the rocks until I react with "yummy" or "mmm, good," or something along those lines. I didn't know rocks had different smells, until she taught me.
The other day, while we were waiting in the driveway, I found a large dead grasshopper. She loves bugs and has recently gotten over her ambivalent feelings toward them -- she used to scream with fear and delight whenever she saw one. Now she says, "Daaat!" in her "wondering" voice, squats down the way only toddlers can, and observes.
"Maia," I said. "Come here! Look. A grasshopper!"
"Yes! But it's dead. So it won't go anywhere."
She walked over, scarcely able to believe it. I pointed and she gave her Shirley-Temple gasp -- eyes wide open, mouth a perfect "o," and suddenly it all breaks into a giggle.
She squatted to look, then decided that wasn't enough. She flopped down on her belly, nose two inches from the grasshopper, and looked and looked. She poked it gently, then tried to squish it. It was dried out, so it crumbled under her fingers. She squinted and looked closer, then laughed. She put her nose closer and smelled. She kicked her feet against the gravel.