Bailey and I got back from running errands and went straight from the car to stroll through the neighborhood.
I tried to watch with her eyes.
Not a cloud in the sky, the blue expanse stretching overhead. We stopped and started, Bailey regarding our way, looking up at the evergreen fir trees shooting up 30 feet overhead, the treesâ€™ deep forest green needles full on each branch.
We made our way past, and the view opened to a lake that reached off into the distance. The shadows from the trees fell across the edges of the shallows of the water. The shoreline was a glassy mirror of the budding trees. The middle of the lake was wind-whipped, static lines on the water.
Bailey turned from watching the lake and waddled ahead, her hand in mine. She began to whimper, straining her eyes in the too bright sun. She held her small hand in front of her face, but to no avail, the sun was too penetrating.
Still, she trudged on.
Finally, we made the bend in the road where the forestâ€™s shadows fell across the road. With her left arm growing tired from reaching to adulthood, she switched hands in mine.
Then, she did something unexpected. She pulled free, wandered off the path, through the grass down an incline to the woods. She reached out her hand and shook the branch of a tree as if she were greeting an old friend. Satisfied with the handshake, she returned to me, and we walked again.
We crossed the road to the next lake, full of fowl, in our neighborhood. We sat on a bench and watched the Canadian goose arch its neck, in arabesque fashion, swim its head forward then down, dipping to taste some water, letting it spill from its beak.
In short order, Bailey climbed down from the bench. Sheâ€™d had enough. Watching was for the birds.
She ambled ahead. I grabbed her hand again; we crossed the street; and made our way back onto the path. She wanted to turn back and cross the road again, but I knew that was the signal we needed to head back. She made a tiny dance of discontent in front of me, not a fit, just a tamping of feet like she was running in place.
I picked her up and walked with her some distance. A man on a riding lawn mower was shaving the grass along the sidewalk so I held her tight and kept walking. He passed then I let her down, and she waddled ahead. I grabbed her hand again and watched her shadow fall in front of us, her hand extended to mine, at my knees.
In her too long jeans, folded up, with her feet shuffling ahead, her body moving up and down, I think she is my tiny dancer, my blue jean baby, dancing in my hand.