I think about the weather every year, when it's your birthday. I have never had cause in my life to love August unless we're talking about going back to school, which was a highlight for nerd-child me. It's always unbearably hot with warm-blanket levels of humidity, mosquito bites are as numerous as freckles, and I can barely remember what a cardigan looks like, let alone wear one.
But the week that you were born, my dear Miss E, it was as though a breath of October swept through the Ohio River Valley. When we brought you home from the hospital, we opened all of the windows and in the cool blue light of the afternoon you dozed in a bassinet in our living room, the curtains lifting and as gently settling as the cap of fine, dark hair on your head.
It is cool today, cooler than it was yesterday, with sweeter temperatures still in the forecast for this weekend. You and I went to the grocery store yesterday and I didn't break a sweat pushing you in the cart as you considered the four lollipops the clerk had given you for being nearly four. You talked about which one you would eat, and who you would give the remaining three to. I was overcome by your little generosity - so big in the scope of you - thinking of when the orphaned Anne Shirley has a bag of sweets and doesn't hoard them for herself but plots to share them straightaway with her bosom friend, Diana Barry.
Of course, you threw a fit as soon as we reached the car over something we have both now forgotten. Because what sticks with me is your goodness. The rest is merely you growing and stretching into the shape you'll be, the boundaries and challenges of being a human who is learning to decide some things for herself - who may never get used to having some things decided for her. Just like her mama.
You are not perfect and neither am I, my first and biggest girl. But I am every day humbled and stumbled and absolutely in love with you. I am each year realizing how much I still have to learn about you. And as weepy-sorry as I am to have to say goodbye to the baby and big kid and bigger kid that you've been, who you profess and dream to be delights and surprises me.
Happy Birthday, Elinor. I am so, so, so proud of you.