Mom, What’s the Smell?

We journeyed to the heart of Amish country Saturday to take the wee lassies aboard Thomas the Tank Engine, which had magically hopped from the Island of Sodor (I just accidentally typed “Sodom” there, and am thinking that a show based there would make for an entirely different type of programming) to a railroad somewhere in the farmlands of Pennsylvania. As is always the case  (every single time, and it is delightful) when we take SK and the Mighty on an adventure, our children were an absolute blast. They loved the “Peep! Peep!” sound Thomas is so fond of making, and the ice cream (of course) and the absolutely fantabulous can’t-be-beat surprise ride on a–wait for it–school bus.

But the very best moment for this momma was her eldest daughter getting to ride a train. Because SK’s always (for two-thirds of her life, anyway) wanted to ride a train, and Thomas is just so cool and because the windows were open to let the breeze flow through the cars, bringing with it all the scents of cut hay and cow poop that fresh country air carries. And Saoirse got to sit next to the window and place her hands on the sill and poke her head outside to stare at the land and the smoke and all those cows, and I got to sit there with a smiling baby on my lap and just watch her.

And all I could think was, this is freedom. This is grace. Because, for those brief moments that the air around her was silent, and Saoirse’s face was tilted upward into the sunlight and the breeze, I saw wonder. In her little smile and tousled hair I saw contentment and happiness and that secret thrill in the heart that comes from experiencing something new. And I wanted to capture that moment and tuck it into my pocket to take it out when we needed–that little instant where all the good pieces of the world click together and open a window, just for a second, to give us a glimpse of something we can’t quite fathom. Because that right there was heaven. Well, heaven and a little cow poop.

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