Since we moved here, I’ve gotten in the habit of taking Belle outside after I take TLD upstairs for his afternoon nap. She feels like a big girl when I let her stay up a while after her little brother goes to sleep and she loves our land.
I point to a tree and we race to it, giggling as we run. Next to me I see her biggest smile behind wind-whipped hair. Her arms are waving, stiff-elbowed. The sound of her small feet hitting the hard ground and laughter brings out my sentimental mommy side. A long time from now there will be certain things that I’ll remember better than my own name. I pray this is one of them.
We reach the designated tree. I catch my breath, which is more of a sob than anything else, and I swallow my new keepsake of Belle. I point to the next tree, fifty or a hundred feet from where we’re standing, and we cris-cross the property till she can’t anymore or doesn’t want to anymore.
Breathless, we recover with a walk through our pine grove. We are always looking for signs of whatever might have called it “home” the night before. Since we walk through the pines almost every day it’s easy to notice the differently matted needles and other clues they leave behind.
“Lotsa poo today, Mommy” she calls as she tiptoes past me to the trail’s exit. I never thought I’d ever be trying to identify animal droppings but as soon as we get inside and I have her tucked in for her nap, I’m online looking at poop.
While I’ve only seen “evidence” I believe we have a large family of deer living with us, and maybe some raccoons. I’d love to see what’s back there though. Till then the menagerie I’ve started to conjure in my mind will keep growing as I find more exotic track- and poo-identifying websites.