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Harvard Yard

One day less than a year ago, I posted a blog entry about my granddaughter Darwin's first exposure to Solid food. At the end of the entry, I described how Margie and I had met Elissa in Harvard Square the previous day, Wednesday, August 28, 2013, a day after Dar's six-month birthday. We had then pushed Darwin around Harvard Yard in her stroller until she fell asleep.

We took care of Dar that day because Harvard's Fall semester was starting. Dar's mother Elissa teaches at Harvard, and she had a meeting with her freshman advisees. And since Ryan had also gone back to work, and Dar had not yet started daycare, Elissa needed help caring for Dar during the meetings.

This event was repeated this August, almost exactly a year later, Wednesday, August 27, 2014, to be precise. Since the date of a particular day of the week a year later is one day earlier, this time the meeting fell exactly on Dar's 18-month birthday. She's changed a lot over the past year. Like the previous year, we met Elissa in front of Au Bon Pain in Harvard Square, and had lunch in their open-air seating area (Dar had frozen peas, and a full container of yogurt). We then pushed Dar in her stroller across Massachusetts Avenue, and into Harvard Yard.

I didn't say much in last year's entry about the goings-on in the Yard that day, other than noting Dar's being "pushed in irregular loops among all the incoming Harvard freshmen." In fact, there's always a lot happening on this day in Harvard's calendar. Yesterday we saw students moving into the dorms that surround the Yard, and people walking around carrying boxes and dragging suitcases. There were tour groups and tourists all over the place, I imagine including a lot of the families of the incoming freshmen. And quite a few sizeable tents were set up, to introduce incoming freshmen to the various Harvard activities open to them. Here's just one of the tents that was set up in front of Lehman Hall:

A tent, with people milling about

Someone was dressed up in a lion costume approximately in the area shown in the photo. I didn't envy him, since the temperature that day was around 32 degrees C (around 90 degrees F). Dar can recognize a lion, and generally answers the question, "What does a lion say?" with "Roar!". So I pushed her up to see the lion. This proved unsuccessful, as when the lion approached, Dar broke into tears. I quickly retreated.

Dar asleep in her strollerAlthough Dar is very different from the previous year, she still eventually fell asleep in her stroller when we pushed her around the Yard, as you can see to the left. I texted that photo to Elissa to let her know what was going on. We sat down on some steps in the shade until Elissa wrote us to say that she was done with her meetings.

Once Dar awoke from her nap (45 minutes this year), we enjoyed the sunny day and the fresh air of the Yard. Darwin spent much of this time engaging in one of her favorite outdoor activities, collecting rocks. She started off by bringing quite a few of them to Margie, who added them to a pile.

Only a month ago, I noted in a blog entry called The world according to Darwin that her definition of a "rock" was rather expansive, encompassing pretty much any small object found outdoors on the ground. Since there are quite a few oak trees in Harvard Yard, her collection yesterday included no small number of acorns (and there seemed to be a pretty good crop this year).

But this time around, Margie observed Darwin distinguishing between acorns and actual rocks. When Margie said "acorn", Darwin repeated "corn" - there's a possibility she perceived what Margie said to be not "acorn", but rather "a corn", since she often puts the article "a" in front of nouns. In any event, after Margie had accumulated quite a rock pile, Darwin started bringing the rocks to me.

I immortalized her project with a cellphone video (if you watch it, and listen carefully, you can hear Margie commenting in the background). I've posted this video to YouTube. Note 1

Click on any of the pictures below to see the YouTube video they were taken from. It shows Darwin bringing me her prize, proclaiming it to be "a rock", and then toddling off to find another:

Dar walking across the lawn with a small rock in her hand Dar reaching to put the rock in my hand My hand, exhibiting the rock

Our excursion ended with a short stop for ice cream at the Ben & Jerry's in "The Garage" mini-mall just south of Harvard Square. And Elissa can once again say, "I parked my Dar in Harvard Yard." Note 2

August 31, 2015 addendum: a blog entry was added describing the same event the following year. It's called Harvard Yard (bis).

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© 2014 Lawrence J. Krakauer   Click here to send me e-mail.
Originally posted August 28, 2014, and updated August 31, 2015

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Footnotes (click [return to text] to go back to the footnote link)

Note 1:   I'm relatively new to using videos on my blog, and I've had trouble getting them to play properly in various browsers and devices (sometimes they come out sideways, or too big for the screen, or won't play at all). One method of dealing with this (that I learned from Sara) is to upload the video to YouTube, and then to link to it there. This outsources the handling of the video to YouTube, and they seem to know what they're doing. In the case of this video, they even processed it for me to make it less shaky.

But in case YouTube doesn't keep it forever, here's a link to the original video in MP4 format. You can try clicking on it here and see what happens, or you can right-click to download it.

I also need to learn to turn my phone sideways to take videos - that produces better results across different platforms. But I forgot to do that in this case.  [return to text]

Note 2:   I didn't say very much about this sentence when I wrote it last year in my blog entry called Solid food, as I figured everyone would understand the reference. But in case any readers outside the US come across this entry, here's what it's all about.

I was born in New York City, and I'm what's called a "rhotic speaker" (that's "rhotic", not "erotic"). That means I pronounce the letter "R" - for the word "father", I say "FA-therr", not "FA-thah". But people born in Boston, Massachusetts tend to drop final R sounds, more like the British (that's where the accent comes from, I think).

A classic sentence used to illustrate this is, "I pahked my cah in Hahvahd Yahd", the approximate local pronunciation of "I parked my car in Harvard Yard." This sentence is used to illustrate the accent despite the fact that Harvard Yard contains tree-covered lawns, and it's not possible to park a car there. But Elissa did "park" Dar with us in the Yard; hence, "I pahked my Dah in Hahvahd Yahd."

A funny thing about the Boston accent is that speakers tend to add a final R sound to words that don't have an R at the end - they pronounce "Korea" a bit like "career".   [return to text]

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