Friday, February 10, 2012


Mabel Watson Payne loves to visit the complicated waterfall at Yerba Buena Gardens. Thursday afternoon we settled ourselves on the edge of a low and shallow pool, close enough to hear and see and feel the crashing water, but not too close. A pair of young brothers in red were fishing pennies out of the water, under the tolerant eye of their mother.

Before long the brothers decided to deliver their rescued pennies (still dripping with water) to Mabel Watson Payne. She was so glad to get them and the little boys were so glad to give them that I could not bring myself to inform everybody that 18 month old babies are not customarily allowed to play with pennies. Instead I told Mabel we could play with them together if she promised seriously not to put them anywhere near her mouth. She understood and she promised and she stuck to her word.

At first it was enough to arrange the coins on the granite ledge or on the granite pavement. The next refinement was to deposit them in two tiny pockets on the front of Mabel's shirt. First a penny in the left pocket, then a penny in the right pocket, never two in a row in the same pocket.