Long ago in that other country you used to keep birds of jeweled colors— Parrot-green, yellow; vermillion streaked across their faces, they were the first bright gashes on the day. You could've had a cat or a dog, but under the terms of lease, those always cost extra. The same was true of vacations: no family trips to see a geyser or grand waterfall, no holiday in quaint Bavarian towns along the Rhine. Perhaps it's just as well you had no pets, did not indulge expensive perks. Perhaps intuitively, you felt that you should wait until such a time arrived to make you feel you might relax a little, take care of more than just "the necessary," before giving in at last to the desire to see a larger world and take in its varied pleasures. But the years have a tendency to make you believe the reel keeps going indefinitely; one season's black-and-whites become the next one's Polaroids; then all turn uniformly grainy. The maples you planted, flanking the driveway, are tall and leafy; but the persimmon you set in backyard soil refused to thrive. Still, chalking up items in the ledger, perhaps each side in general balances out the other. Today, on texted video, your toddler grandson sounds out letters one by one, putting them all together: the s, t, a then r that form the word star.