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April 08, 2008

A Walk Before Nightfall

After dinner, and before his treat, I thought it would be nice to take J, my not-quite-four-year-old, on a short walk. Outside, we could hear birds singing in every tree. A bird perched on our chimney could be seen opening his beak. J told me the bird was singing, "it's spring!"

A short way up the road we saw robins picking at the grass. We stopped to watch, and J saw one pull up a worm. Climbing the hill we passed a culvert blocked with sand and debris and another in the ditch with water flowing in from a pipe under a storm drain's cover. Another bird watched us from a wire.

As we passed a house J spotted a neighbor emerging from the door to tend his grill. "Who's that," said J to me, and then, thinking better of it, shouted to the man, "what's your name?" We were introduced, and walked on.

Higher up we discovered that a stream had formed a pond beside a farm. Someone had placed a blue canoe by the water's edge. Rusted metal tanks and farm equipment lay in the grass nearby, and J spotted a huge tractor tire on its side. Pale barkless trunks placed at the bottom of the embankment marked the edge of this farm's meadow. J thought they might be birches, but then spotted some real birches further along. A boulder cut to build the road was pronounced the site of a quarry, and speculation ensued as to the dinosaurs who might have been found there. At the turnaround point we became aware of high ringing sounds from the pond, and I told J about peepers.

Walking back we looked at rocks, mosses, lichen, and new plants starting to grow from beneath last autumn's fallen leaves. Then a group of deer, five or six adults, the first I'd ever seen on our street in more than a year and a half of occupancy. They were feeding on grass in a large lawn and fled to the edge of the woods as we passed, white tails bobbing. We talked about deer being fearful, about deer eating food from gardens and farms, and about people eating deer. J told me that his friend B was the fastest runner, and could certainly catch a deer. Down the hill, the bird still watched from the wire above.

A recognized dog came to bark and greet us, and I cautioned J about calling her out to the road. Further along we stepped off the road to examine some barbed wire, and I explained what this was for and how to be careful of it (the lesson learned, I discovered later, was that barbed wire was to "protect from cows"). Then we were back in our yard. We looked up and J saw the buds in the old tree in our lawn, and in the sky beyond that, the new crescent moon, still a sliver. He told me the moon is usually bigger, but when I told him the moon was like a ball in the sky and asked where it got its light he told me it was lit by the sun, and showed me which side of the moon pointed the way to that source of light.

At home, back inside, for a treat, a bath, stories, and bed, and these experiences to remember. It's taking him a long time to fall asleep.