Blond misty curls, spun white gold, all around her head in the late sun. It’s sweater-weather crisp. Twilight is coming on. I am holding her familiar weight tight up on my hip, my forearm making a chair. Her hand is on my back for balance.
We are walking toward the marsh, the headwaters of the local reservoir; the cattails are dense, seeding out with those big mallet heads—brown velvet sausages, flaking out with downy fluff. The flat pulpy reeds have gone to orange-gold in the slanted light. Some of the seed stalks are crisscrossed and woven up into little loose baskets for the Redwings that nest here and go south to the southern Central Valley for the winter bug-fest there. They are the bi-color variety with a simple red on black epaulette. The males are the first to show and the last to go. Very territorial with the glossy black males singing their watery churrr all spring long. We’ll be back come spring to this spot for all that opulent singing.
The way she looks out, her gray eyes—piercing, intense, she seems like some creature on the hunt. What I know about her now, you’d not be surprised to recognize back then, her instinct, solid and intact. She’s looking at a bird over my shoulder, and then quick to not lose eye contact, she whips her head around mine and keeps following a raven oaring along, a winging dash against the blue.
We gather up a couple of nests, souvenirs, curiosities, sculptures really. Her mom likes nests. “What’s that for,” she asks? “We’re gonna bring ’em home.” “Why?” “Aren’t they pretty?” “Yes”, then looking in the sky again. Her cheek polished deep rosy pink, cool against mine.