I went for a walk yesterday in the early evening hours. Since the time change a few weeks ago, we have light longer into the day. The temperature was in the 50’s, so with a jacket it was great walking weather. As I was getting my shoes, I hollered into the living room, “I’m going on a walk, anyone want to go?” From the hallway across the living room Oliver yelled, “A walk? I want to go!” He ran to get his shoes. Immediately, Jude popped up out of the chair and said, “A walk? I want to go TOO!”

Anything Oliver wanted to do, Jude wanted to do too. That’s just the phase of life we were in. We’d seen phases like this before with the other brothers. It was always adorable. Most of the time Oliver went along, happy to be the older, wiser big brother. Occasionally he got annoyed and wanted to play alone, resulting in hurt feelings and tears for little brother.

The three of us left through the front door, stepping out into the shady front yard.  I had just swept the sidewalk and driveway the day before. Our trees left a lot of debris, making it difficult for much grass to grow. The walk was littered with pine needles, acorns and leaves. Sometimes I thought the pine tree and the oak tree were competing to see which one could litter the yard the most. I just knew the lady across the street was shuddering in anxiety when she looked at our yard.

We began walking east down the street. Soon, a cacophony filled the air. “Look at that!” I exclaimed to the boys, pointing up. We looked up and saw the gray sky filled with an enormous moving pattern of black splotches. Standing motionless we just stared as the birds flew in unison overhead. The chatter of so many birds in unison was loud. “That is so cool, there must be thousands of birds!” Oliver exclaimed.

“It makes me want to . . .” he started to say, trailing off. “Does it make you want to be a bird and fly with them?” I asked him. He shot me a slow, sweet grin and replied, “Yes, that’s what I was going to say.” I smiled a knowing smile back and said, “It makes me want to do it too.”  There was magic in the moment. I’d always felt a little like I was flying with the birds when I saw them move overhead. It was sweet to know he felt it too.

We kept moving down the street, talking about everything we saw. The fun part of a walk was pointing out what was in front of us or what caught our eye. “Look at that purple tree!” Oliver exclaimed. “Mom, take a picture of it!” he said. So I got out my phone, which was in my pocket playing music for us while we walked. It was the first of probably 15 pictures I took on demand.

Not to be left out, Jude pointed at another tree and said, “It’s a gray tree!” I chuckled to myself. “It’s not gray, Jude, it’s pink” Oliver corrected him. They both had different forms of colorblindness. Jude saw gray and pink as the same color. “That’s pink?” Jude asked. We laughed and said in unison, “Yes”.

We kept moving, stopping again to watch a smaller group of birds fly over. I showed them the tulip tree I’d noticed on a previous walk with Thomas. “This is my favorite of the flowering trees” I told them. We stared at it for several moments before continuing.

We walked past the house of some of our neighbors a couple streets over. Seeing them sitting in their living room, their dogs barked at us for daring to move past their domain. We waved at them and they waved back, friendly smiles on their faces. Social distancing kept us from the regular chit chat, but the window waves shared just as much kindness.

“We’re going to go down here and turn around and come back” I told them. I liked to point out how the streets worked and where we were. I didn’t know if they really kept track of that yet, but I figured it was never too early to orient them to their surroundings. “Is it a dead end?” Oliver asked. “Well,” I replied, “It’s a cul-de-sac.” He gave me a funny look and said, “Is it cold down there?” laughing raucously. I laughed with him. “Not COLD de-sac” I corrected him, “cul-de-sac” and I spelled it out for him. “Repeat it back to me” I said, the way we did when we learned a new word. He said it correctly a couple of times. “It still sounds like we’re saying cold-de-sac” he added. “I know” I replied. “Cold-de-sac” he muttered again quietly. He was determined to have the last word, so I let him have it.

We stopped again to watch another group of birds fly over. “I just can’t believe how many birds we’ve seen today” Oliver said. “Remember that time when we saw all those bunnies while we were walking?” he reminded me. I had forgotten about that. We had seen probably 20 different rabbits in the neighborhood while we were walking. “Oh yeah” I said, “It’s probably a little too chilly for them just yet, but soon they may be out.” Jude piped up, “I can be a bunny!” He put his hands up and began hopping right along beside us, his eyes lit with fun and a sweet smile on his little face. “You’re the cutest bunny in this whole neighborhood!” I told him, grabbing him up to swing him around. He laughed.  “Put me down so I can hop!” he said in his high, tiny animal impersonation voice.

Just then we were passed on the right by a gentleman out for a walk. After nodding quickly, he just went on quickly ahead of us. He was the only other person we saw out on the street for the entire time. Everyone was keeping their distance and staying inside.

We had made the turn to head back to our house. We talked often about walking against traffic and how be alert and move out of the way for cars. As we approached our house, the large pine and oak welcomed us back home, looming tall in the front like sentries.

They ran ahead back into the house.


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