Pieces of beauty

A five-year-old’s natural artistry

It was an extended family gathering, where there were few kids my niece’s age. From the time they were babies, I’ve always tried to be the aunt who sat down on the floor to play with the kids. At five years old, my niece knew I couldn’t resist when she pulled at my hand. We explored my parents’ 65 acres, observing the nature around us. She plucked some colored leaves and came running to show me. We didn’t think Mimi would notice, so we robbed a few more items from the landscape. “I’m going to make something,” she announced. She led me to some rock steps that wind back to the house, where she began to construct the masterpiece with her little hands. Resisting the urge to direct her, I quietly watched her arrange each piece. Finally, she looked up and said, “Now, you take a picture!” That day, my five-year-old niece taught me to see the places an unguarded imagination can go and, more important, that it’s possible to gather bits and pieces of beauty to create something wonderful—like family, fragmented and dispersed throughout crowded, faraway cities and brought back together for hugs and hellos and photographs.

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