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The experience of watching a young child’s imagination at work has, for me, been as rewarding as any artistic experience I have known. When the kids were young I kept a journal of their antics, adventures, and observations. At the beginning or end of the day, over coffee or a glass of wine, Mommy and I often reflected on these events with glad hearts. Matthew announced his engagement to be married this past weekend. The following episode happened yesterday . . . About twenty-two years ago. “All Aboard!”
MATTHEW’S JOURNAL: September 12, 1996

Matthew brought me the umbrella yesterday morning. “Daddy, I can’t find a way to get this open.”

   “Well,” I said analyzing the umbrella-level antiques and breakables as he wielded it about still trying to find a release point. “I’ll show you how to open it as long as you keep it on the ground. You can’t swing it around, it will break something. It’s really meant to be opened outside.”

   “But why, Daddy?” he asked. I didn’t feel like explaining bad luck to the boy. Needless worry will rear its many heads in time, so we went to the center of the living room rug and I showed him how to open it.


   Matthew jumped back startled, then ran forward to grab the thing from my hands. He immediately turned it over, climbed inside, and hailed, “All aboard!”

   I winced as I watched his 38 lbs tread on the wire supports of the umbrella. “I can’t get in there, son. Daddy will be too heavy and break it.”

   “But don’t you want to ride in my Magic Umbrella? It can take you anywhere you want to go!” My son sounded like a old-timey carnival barker. His expression alone could have sold me the Big Top.

  “Will it take me to the Sierras so I can go fishing?” I asked.

   “Sure it will!” he said beckoning. “Climb on in!”

   I’ll explain the umbrella to Mommy later, I thought. It won’t rain for a while, I’m sure.*


*It rained the next day

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