Saturday, January 12, 2013

Fear of Flying

Toward the end of fall the crews finished up work on the bike trail that connects Easton with 670 giving us biking access to essentially the entire city once we dash across the always rumbling Sunbury Road.  This afternoon Sophia and I headed out for a walk, managed the busy two lanes, and started to walk through a patch of woods that I had lived across the street from for ten years but had never been in.

I don't know how warm it was, but it felt easily like it was in the mid sixties.  The birds seemed confused and I could imagine the geese looking back over their shoulders wondering if the trip they were all geared up for was suddenly necessary.  We watched them v themselves high above the bare trees.

Sophia asked to be picked up saying she was afraid of the airplane that flew overhead, though she wasn't really. 

After a few moments she saw some crusted browning snow shriveled and hiding in the shade of old growth oaks.  I could feel her body go rigid with excitement and she squirmed to get down and stomp it, feeling it crunch under feet warm and dry in her pink zebra rain boots.  I stopped, watching her hop and slip along the spine of a winter defiant in the face of these odd temperatures.

The trail in this section straddles Alum Creek on its east and Sunbury Rd to the west with the hissing traffic a constant backdrop.  I had hoped the road litter would be contained by the brittle weed growth street side, but it has spilled ten or so feet into the woods along the street and I found myself looking forward to summer when the green would cover so much of what winter leaves bare to the eye.  It's an east side cliche these crumpled packs of Newports and empty bottles of Wild Irish Rose.  Black and Mild cigar cellophane tangled in the grass like phantom snakes and plastic grocery sacks rustling from twig flagpoles.

After awhile of heading South, I said it was time to head back to our development.  Sophia, just happy to be out and about, agreed and we started back the way we came. 

The little neighborhood we live in has no real place to play with it's postage stamp yards and cramped alleys running behind line after line of homes.  So, we stick to the sidewalks and see what's changed with our familiar sights.  I point out the Christmas decorations that are still out.  I answer her questions about fences and airplanes and wait for five minutes or so watching out for cars as she stomps around in a puddle in an alley.  She finds a stick on the sidewalk and immediately turns it on me - waving it at my chest declaring me a princess.

At the bottom of the hill, in a less traveled corner of the neighborhood, is a little stream we often check on when out making the circuit.  In the summer it mostly dries up, but today it bubbled along heading right toward us only to disappear under our feet.  The drainage pipe is lined with large squarish stones, their edges smoothed down by years in the stream.  Sophia steps up onto them, walking the length of the barrier, careful not to slip.

I join her, standing on one of the middle stones, looking at the water.  I tell her this is our magic river and that we need to make a wish.  She stands beside me and we hold hands.  I tell her to close her eyes and she does.  I close mine too and tell her to make a wish. 

"I wish for an airplane."

I smile and tell her it's a great wish.  We stand there for another moment, but Sophia is soon moved by the desire to jump so I step back onto the pavement and watch as she repeatedly jumps from the stones to the ground. 

It isn't until I'm taking off my shoes inside the front door that I realize I forgot to make a wish of my own.