It's lunchtime and the boys and I are walking. Sissy, our greyhound, stays by my side and the boys pound ahead. The air is crisp but the sun is full. It slips over our shoulders as we wind away from city blocks toward the trees that stand stripped but strong.
The boys laugh.
And I listen.
They run. They stop. They plunge into the brush for an acorn or a walnut or a leaf they can't pass by.
It's precious to see their hearts go free. There are sticks for poking. Rocks for kicking. Ground to cover and energy enough to spill over it all.
Now the boys are bolting down the curvy road again. Sis and I can keep up. She's made for running and I'm used to chasing boys.
"Look," Gabe calls. "It's a cattail. It's beautiful. There are two. Let's go!" Three blond brothers are knee-deep in bramble. I stroke Sis's head and wonder how two cattails will satisfy three boys.
"Hey! Over there," Zay calls as the two cattails pluck free. He points across the road. There's another cattail. It's smaller, like him. He claims it as his own.
Soon we're traveling down the road again. The boys are carrying cattails and I count the seconds until they become swords. One. Two. Three. I'm right. Now there are jousts and jabs. They're laughing and fencing as we walk down the road. I listen and I'm grateful and I tell them to be careful. But I'm waiting for the fun to turn hard. Moods can shift fast. A misplaced jab. A harder poke.
I've seen the wild fury of a boy with a sword.
Thinking it will all break loose.
I'm still waiting for the demise when Zay discovers if he presses against the brown velvet of his cattail, hundreds of cotton-white seeds fly free. They dance and drift in the breeze. The boys think this is cool and soon the air is thick with white whispers.
"A blizzard," Gabe says.
"No," says Zay. "They're happy thoughts. We're sending happy thoughts on the wind."
The boys agree and sing together. Happy thoughts. Then they're running again, hands held high. They're twirling with the seeds and laughing.
The sun is still warm on my back. Sis is at my side in an easy stride. I ponder, for the millionth time, about how their minds turn.
Carried on the wind.
I'm in wonder.
And it sounds good to me.
As I write, Sandy is lashing against the coast. We're going deeper than happy thoughts. We're lifting heartfelt prayers....