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Dancing as the garbage truck rolls by
Scripps Howard News Service


January 25, 2006

Nothing much ever happens on my block. At least, nothing that's worth a 39-cent stamp to write home about, so to speak.

But sometimes I can't help wondering: Is there stuff going on out there that I don't know about? I mean, what if Mel Gibson decided to shoot a movie on my street and needed somebody to play the lead or make him a sandwich?

Occasionally - just to be sure I'm not missing out on anything that's too good to miss - I like to stand at the window for a while and keep watch.

You never know what you might see if you pay attention.

Take this morning. Garbage day is always exciting, especially if I forget to put out the cans and have to chase the truck in my pajamas flapping my arms like Big Bird on fire.

Imagine my relief to see that my husband had put the cans on the curb. Did I mention I've decided to keep him?

When I heard the garbage truck I ran to the window to see something too good to be missed: Baby Nathan.

He lives across the street with his mom and his dad and his two big brothers. I probably shouldn't call him "baby" any more. He'll be 3 pretty soon and as any three year old will tell you, three is big.

But not nearly as big as 28.

I had my own "Baby Nathan" once. He grew up to be a man - 6 ft., 3 in. tall, 200 lbs. These days he's known as "Big Nate" to most everybody except his mother. He's had a buzz cut since middle school, but when I look at him I still see his curls.

You know how time works? The years slip through our fingers like grains of sand. One day a child is 3; next day he's 28 and we say, "How on Earth did that baby get so big?"

What is it with 3-year-olds and garbage trucks? Baby Nathan lives and breathes for garbage day. This morning, as usual, he was out on the sidewalk waiting with his dad when the truck rolled up.

I wish you could've seen him. He has stick-straight hair, like a baby buzzard's, wearing a T-shirt, baggy shorts and a pair of rubber boots.

Baby Nathan, that is, not his dad. I didn't notice what his dad was wearing.

When the giant arm on the truck reached down like a claw to pick up an overstuffed trash can, Baby Nathan got so excited he cut loose and a did a happy little hopping dance - holding up one leg of his shorts, just so, spinning in circles and whipping his head side to side to keep an eye on the truck lest, God forbid, he miss something.

This was no simple dance to do. Believe me. I tried it. I could do some of the steps, but not all at once. You have to be pretty happy to dance like that.

When the truck honked its horn and roared away, Baby Nathan waved a long goodbye and went inside with his dad.

That's when I noticed the rainbow. It was just a piece of one, really, barely a scrap, but it had all the colors - red, yellow, green, blue, even purple - all lit up and shimmering across the ceiling of my living room.

It took me a while to find the source - the beveled edge of a glass table top, thick with dust. Sometimes fine things can come from unlikely places.

When I was not much bigger than Baby Nathan, I learned to take a rainbow as a promise from God, a sure sign of good things coming my way.

That's how I took the rainbow on my ceiling. I reached up and grabbed it for you and me and Baby Nathan and Big Nate and anyone who dares to hope.

It felt so good I did a happy little hopping dance. I'm out of practice, but I'm getting better.


Sharon Randall is the author of "Birdbaths and Paper Cranes."
She can be reached at P.O. Box 931, Pacific Grove, CA 93950, or at randallbay(at)

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