Late-lingering warmth shone golden on the afternoon. After school, the children peeled off their socks and walked barefoot in the cool, cool grass. The daughter raced the swingset glider to the moon, while the youngest boy watched, his golden hair curling into shades of late-afternoon sun.

The oldest boy ate pretzels and rode the tricycle in circles on the patio. The backyard swing was awash in diminishing sun.

It always seems like a good idea at the start. And then like an old wooden wheel onto which water keeps pouring and pouring, it never stops, it keeps going, and the idea spirals out of control.

Or it is in theory a very smart way to go, but the reality lags behind. Time is an expensive commodity for everyone but in a down economy, with retail at a premium, ideas must produce results.

In the dark of night, all is calm. Her heart stops racing and the ideas cease their endless daytime ricochet. There was to be a dinner of introductions but that, too, evaporated with the best of intentions. In its place, a dinner with an old friend and a mentor, listening to stories of endings that are really beginnings.

Every ending is a beginning, though. We sat on the chalky patio, discussing a best course of action. Apple-picking on a Saturday could indeed be an extraordinary way to spend the day. Not by their father’s definition, but in Israel the idea of Shabbat is just that – a day away from the busy-ness of schedules and work, family gathering in the parks and on hikes and at the table for a taste of quiet.

The children are quicker to accept change than the mother. It’s always like that.

She stares at pictures of Dog Mountain, which seems like such an old memory, even though it was just June.

She stares at pictures of the Pacific Ocean, blue as a promise with the best of intentions, and remembers the way it sounded rushing along the sand.

She stares at her littlest boy’s hands, painted and stamped on white paper, in autumn shades, so one day when he is a man towering above her and changing the world, she will remember how little and soft he once was.

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