Half asleep, early morning, nursing my baby, I faded in and out of dreamland. My fingers found a goose-down feather that had escaped our comforter. The baby's belly was soon round and taut with warm milk and she was ready to play. I was ready to keep sleeping. She gurgled and razzed and batted at my face with tiny hands, trying to batter a response out of me.

Delaney had just turned six months old and was at that stage of wanting to touch and taste everything. The dawning of observation skills comes early, before older and duller students are ready to pay attention.

In a bid for five more minutes I held the down feather close to her face where she could see it. Delaney became still for a moment, staring at the feather that lay on the pillow six inches from her face. Then she lunged forward and put her face against it. She closed her eyes and slowly turned her head right… and then left… The soft down brushed against her tiny eyelids. Then she opened her eyes against it and tilted her head back until the feather tickled under her nose. Her nose puckered and her lips pursed. Then she stuck out her tongue and licked it. The feather stuck to her tongue and the baby razzed and blew. Spit spattered my face, but the feather stuck to her tongue. I laughed and removed the feather.

Morning had begun.