Beverly Beckham

An almost perfect day in spring

My husband says I would know if I swallowed an ant.

I’m not so sure.

Right up until the ant, it had been a perfect day. Sunshine. Warmth. I got to play in my garden for the first time in so long that I had forgotten how the earth smells in spring: new like the top of an infant’s head; fresh, like my dog Molly’s breath when we first met her, when she was just 6 weeks old.


I raked and dug and breathed in all the sweetness and oohed and aahed over every tender sprout that somehow survived the winter, grateful to have survived, too, planting bulbs in the fall, with every passing year, a bigger act of faith.

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In the afternoon, I drove to Canton’s Kennedy School for the third-grade concert. It’s the same school where my three kids went and where I went for so many concerts and plays and parent/student lunches, chicken kebobs the most popular item on the menu.

More ghosts, more memories.

These new kids, children of children I once knew, filed down the hall and onto the stage and were so quiet and well mannered and beautiful. And there was my granddaughter Lucy with them, recorder in hand, just part of the crowd. The students performed all together and then they performed in smaller groups, earnest and sweet, and I thought about the many things we feared when the doctor said Down syndrome. And how once again there was Lucy, with teachers and friends and all the people who believe in her, dispelling those fears.

And then there was the party to celebrate Ms. Money’s 100th show. Ms. Money is the creation of my daughter Julie. Ms. Money teaches Massachusetts school kids all about money. It’s free, financed by Blue Hills Bank Charitable Foundation. All a school has to do is call.


Because 100 of anything is a big deal, the family gathered, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. And we had pizza and cake and the little kids played on the swings and the bigger kids batted balls and ran around in shirtsleeves and shorts and after a long, cold, relentless winter, this, too, was bliss.

A good day. I was fa-la-la’ing all the way home.

A few hours later I walked upstairs, still thinking God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world, and found a dead ant in the plastic to-go mug I keep next to my bed. The mug has an airtight lid. But the lid has a tiny slot for sipping.

The right size for an ant to slip through.

Normally, I’d have freaked out over the mere possibility of this. I sip in the middle of the night. I glug. I’d glugged the night before. Had there been more dead ants where there was now just one?


I looked around. There were a dozen ants marching across the floor. Two scurrying up the back of the bed. One on the bed.

I turned to the open window. Had they come in this way? I hadn’t pulled down the screen. I leaned out into the soft night air and sniffed it the way I do wine, and there was loam in it and new grass and rainwater and wet wood and hyacinths.

And instead of screaming, I laughed and thought, I’ll put up with ants for this. I’ll put up with bees and wasps and mosquitoes and the groundhogs that eat my plants and the rabbits that bite the heads off my tulips every year just as they’re about to bloom. I’ll put up with hot days and humid nights and weeds and pachysandra run amok, everything Mother Nature doles out, just as long as winter is really gone.

But would I swallow an ant for this? Did I swallow an ant? I suppose I would. But I hope I didn’t. And to make sure I don’t, I bought ant cups. And sprayed.

And just as important? I’ve switched to bottled water.

Beverly Beckham can be reached at