A Sweet Excerpt from In Robin’s Nest

I love the chapters in which Robin is rearing Lark, alone, in their first NYC apartment.

As I turned on the lamps, I thought about how much I loved our little home. Since that first hectic year, I’d papered the kitchen in a cheerful yellow geometric pattern and put up crisp white café curtains. I’d had the old, worn green linoleum ripped up and replaced with a classic black-and-white square pattern. I sorted through the mail and then stuck a finger in the soil of the jade plant that spilled like a weeping willow by the front window.

“Lark, please come water the jade.” I opened a cabinet, thinking about what to make for dinner. Lark chattered to the plant as she watered it with the little brass can.

“You have such a green thumb,” I said, pulling out a can of tomatoes.

She studied her hand. “A green thumb! That’s hilarious, Mama.”

I laughed at her vocabulary and thought wistfully about how not that long ago she had said “fumb” for thumb. As I explained the idiom, Lark began setting our table for two with pretty, old, mismatched dishes, the ones that had spoken to me in a village thrift shop. I had displayed a few special ones on a wooden shelf on the wall. It was fun to speculate on families who had eaten from them. “Who did that one belong to?” I asked Lark as she centered a pink one on her placemat.

She traced the flowers on the plate with a finger. “I think it belonged to a little girl. Named Rosie … with curly black hair and a little dog named Tippy.”

Later that night, Lark and I snuggled in her bed to read. We took turns reading pages. As Lark read, I regarded her sweet room. The alphabet poster I’d bought in Paris hung above the bed. We’d found a dusty old gum ball machine at a junk shop for six dollars. I’d had it made into a bedside lamp with a smart paper shade and had kept it filled with gum balls. On Saturdays, I allowed Lark to insert coins for a special treat. An impressive dollhouse that Grandpa Hank had constructed from a kit squatted in a corner, little dolls strewn around it like confetti. “Mama, it’s your turn!” Lark said . . .

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