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June in December

I can honestly confirm that a tree grows in Brooklyn.

I spent this past weekend in New York — Brooklyn, actually; Williamsburg, precisely — visiting my son and daughter-in-law and their two children. A guy was selling Christmas trees on the street corner when my son and I were out for a walk in the brisk winter air on a New York Friday morning.

There were cut trees and potted trees. A familiar scene this time of year in many towns. But this wasn't the Pacific Northwest nor was it a tree lot. It was a sidewalk and the trees were lined up in front of the wall of a building. The cut trees were no more than four feet tall and the potted ones were about a foot and a half.

My son bought one of the potted ones for his shop. Since it's in a plastic flower pot, once the holidays are over it will be placed on the roof and join the other plants up there. My son saw great promise in that tree. That's because he's a father and he's in it for the long haul.

And next year when December rolls around again, the tree — now a year older and taller — will once again be placed in the shop window where it will be decorated, watered and loved.

The reason for the trip was to meet my new granddaughter, June. She was born in August and was named for her great-grandmother on her mother's side. I have met the 87-year-old June and she is definitely someone to be proud to be named after.

Baby June is already showing signs of the spunkiness of her namesake. The only granddaughter among my wife's and my four grandchildren, little Junie-B is a very special addition to our family. Makes me want to break out into song: "I like June in New York — how about you?"

At this stage of the game with only about 90 days under her belt, June spends most of her time eating and sleeping and having her diapers changed. She spends the time in between smiling and laughing.

When she sleeps, her hands are rolled up into fists with her thumbs tucked inside her finger and her arms outstretched, elbows bent and hands up, Rocky Balboa style. Those little fists barely cover more than the tip of my finger, but the grip is strong. She will be a force to contend with.

When I wasn't hanging out with June, I was playing with her brother Hank. He's 21 months old and we are good buddies, even though this was only my second time visiting him.

One of the things little people like Hank get a kick out of is pulling big people's glasses off their face. Once the little adventurers have accomplished that, they continue in the removal mode and try pulling the grown-up's face off as well. I returned from New York with mine pretty much the way it was when I left — a little redder maybe and my nose might be a bit longer.

Another thing little people like to do is throw things. Not necessarily at you, but toward you. But invariably, the objects find you. So it was that during the course of my five-day visit, a book, a small wooden pig, a ball, a toy car and a box of raisins found my head.

Hank's parents told him each time not to throw things at Grampa and to be gentle. Hank listened and all was quiet on the Eastern front. It was all very innocent, because, at this stage Hank probably couldn't have aimed with any kind of accuracy.

But that will change, because this is a boy who dressed up in a Yankees' uniform for Halloween and has seen the team play at Yankee Stadium. Maybe he's gearing up for the day the current pitching roster retires. And to think, Grampa was there in the early days of Hank's pitching career providing his head for the catcher's mitt.

Little people like to be chased, caught, picked up and tickled. This is great fun for the little person and can go on all day. But what it does for the big person is to elicit the gleeful sound of a child's laughter, without a doubt the most extraordinarily beautiful music there is.

The day after I arrived in New York, the stagehands ended their strike and shows resumed on Broadway. But who needed the Great White Way? I was kept very entertained by two precious little folks whom I hope to see again very soon. We're in it for the long haul.