“Look! There are two birds perched in the top of that quaking aspen tree,” Dad enthused. “Those aren’t birds, Nelson,” Mom corrected. “They are leaves.” A month later, while I weeded the flower garden of its “carpet of weeds,” as Dad called it, I saw that the two resolute bird-leaves clung to their spot in the tree. When Dad discovered I was working outside in the cooler heat of a summer morning, he hurried with all the torpor of a nearly 90-year-old to dress and join me in the yard. “I want to work outside with Roger,” he told Mom. Before he came outside, I hoed and raked and piled weeds, and shaved Irish Spring soap on the flowers to deter the urban deer from munching, and I thought about meeting my date the night before, and several other women I met at the singles conference and on the dating app I both like and loathe. Dad shot me an avuncular grin last week when I informed him I had a date. I met Shar, with long flowing red hair, at a park where I had unfolded a blue gingham tablecloth and set out the quiche I had managed to bake that day. She was sweet and kind and affirming despite my awkward boyish 58-year-old attempts at romance. “You did all this for me?” she asked with some emotion. Yes, I did, because I wanted to make our meeting nice for her, and for me. I did not want ham sandwiches or fried chicken; I wanted to make and bring a special homemade meal. In recent weeks, I have met Rie, persisting through bar exam preparations despite a traumatic brain injury, and Chris, who thought the restaurant’s azeite olive oil of low quality, and Sol, who sallies forth to text once in a while then withdraws, and Deb, who has grown distant, and Lynn, who teaches Bronte and came down with Covid and cancelled, and Tawny, with seven children, and I have seven children, and oh my gosh! can I imagine having fourteen children with all their spouses and children? no I cannot. All wonderful, kind, pleasant women whom I have enjoyed meeting and whom I respect. I am learning (again) that dating requires meeting new people, and meeting new people requires courage and effort, and finding courage requires me to believe in myself in spite of rejection and risk. Shar and I dipped strawberries in sour cream and rolled them in brown sugar and munched the pleasurable sweet-tart-sour combination. And we painted canvas boards and glued on buttons and paper dragonflies, and I felt so grateful she thought the evening was fun and so grateful she did not mind my timid nerdiness. “Rog!” Dad called out when I walked through the door. “Tell us all about your date!” And I happily did.