One hot summer morning in Oakland, California, when my neice, Kito Gamble was four years old, she decided that she was going to wear her beloved giant rubber winter boots to pre-school. No one else thought this was a good idea: not her mother, Joy, nor Terry, nor her Auntie Claire (that’s me), who was visiting from Illinois.
After some discussion, Kito’s longing for her boots filled her heart, and she prepared herself for a full tilt battle. Her mother decided that Kito’s boots were not going to become an Issue, and thus it was that Kito appeared on the sidewalk that morning with a joyful smile: her boots were on her feet, and the world was her oyster.
That’s when something magic happened. Mama Joy was bending over, arranging books and lunches in the car, and deciding whether to wear or pack her sweater (she was driving across the Bay to San Francisco after dropping Kito off, and even in the summer,when the fog rolls into San Francisco, the city gets quite chilly – even as Oakland stays sunny and warm).
At that moment, Kito’s joy and her magic boots brought every Winter Solstice holiday her family celebrated rolling down her block – all at once. There was Kwanza, Chanukah, and Christmas: a little tree and a pile of mysterious gifts: and best of all, above Kito in the bright blue sky a beautiful horse flew past.
That’s when Kito knew that she would be a horse-riding girl. And although there were no other riders in her Oakland neighborhood, nor in the south Berkeley neighborhood to which her family later moved – this turned out to be true! Kito’s mother, Joy, made sure that Kito started riding when she was still a little girl – and today, Kito Gamble is an accomplished equestrian.
It just goes to show what strong girls and their mothers and magic boots can do on a summer morning in Oakland – or Chicago or Detroit or New York or Baltimore or Los Angeles – or anywhere, I think.
Anywhere in the beautiful world they live in.