Maia and I decided to take a little walk yesterday morning. She put on her favorite dress -- a sacklike, shapeless cotton jumper that's tie-dyed orange and handpainted with smiling flowers. She put on her socks and sandals, and then put her hard hat on. "Bikaz we might be walking and a tree would fall down!" she warned.
She grabbed my hand and we walked back into the woods, down a trail that winds among the trees. We walked silently, hoping to sneak up on some deer. Her hand was warm and she put her other hand over her mouth to keep from laughing out loud -- creeping through the birches and pines filled her with a joy that almost made her shake. She let go of my hand and ran ahead, jumping over fallen trees and saying, "Leap! LEAP!" and turning to see if I would leap too. Then she crouched down, shushing herself and me, remembering there might be animals about.
After we turned back, she began to run full out along the path, kicking up her sandals, laughing and shaking off the hard hat. She ran farther from me as I walked slowly after her. Her dressed sparkled in the sun as the falling leaves glittered around her, and in the uncertain light suddenly she was gone, around a corner, behind a tree, and I couldn't see her anymore.
And I felt that happy-sad feeling you get sometimes, the pride and regret at the same time, and here it was fall too, so beautiful and melancholy.
I met Maia back at the house and then we went inside and had a 15-minute fight about whether and then which socks she would wear to day care. Eh, sometimes it's like that.