It's a January cold day. The Christmas lights and decorations are packed away, and the fields and woods behind our house are a contrast of white and brown. The world is stark.
We bundle up. The baby is snuggled against my chest, tied firmly in place with the pashmina Richard gave me for Christmas. I've zippered his vest over the both of us, backward, to fill the gap my own coat couldn't breach.
Graedy runs ahead, yelling, "Race you! Race you to the rabbits!" Our new favourite outside activity is identifying animal tracks. Today we found rabbit, fox, mouse, weasel and what might have been a very very big moose.
We meet our neighbour, carrying old carrots from her cellar that didn't make it through the winter. She dumps them behind the barn and we discuss gardens and planting asparagus and garlic. She goes back to her house, and we keep going up the hill. At the turn off, straight to the field, right to the cabin, we choose right. We stop at everything and nothing - little tunnels in the snow. Mice? Rabbit tracks, followed closely by fox tracks. We peek into the camps windows, no one has been for weeks.
Maddie starts to follow what she is sure is a very cute fox trail. She asks if fox eat people. No, probably not. Wolves, maybe. She decides not to follow the cute fox after all.
Melt down at the end of the trail...I won't let Maddie dig up a baby fir tree to bring home as a pet. We talk about what trees want from their lives, what they dream of, their biggest aspirations. I say that being a Christmas tree is a big thing for a fir, or maybe being made into a house. I say that if I were a tree, I'd want to be made into a baby cradle. I'd always be remembered fondly and I'd hold babies every day. Maddie says she'd want to be dug up and brought home as a pet. Nice try. We settle on raiding our Christmas ornaments and bringing them back the next day to decorate her tree.
Home again, home again, cheeks rosy, baby sleeping, everyone hungry. The stew is simmering. The smells of the cranberry, orange, nutmeg and cinnamon make my tummy ache. Richard calls. Just because.
It's a good day.