Thursday, October 9, 2008

Notes from a Camper

Yesterday I watched a little boy and a little girl, perhaps nine or so, on scooters. It took me a minute to realize that they weren't related. 

They rode up the hill until each was out of breath - the exact same moment - and then pushed their scooters to the summit.

From the top, the ride was long and steep. The boy deferred and watched eagerly as the girl flew down at such a speed that I jumped up from the picnic table where I was dicing carrots.

She screamed, half in thrill and half terror.

"It's too fast!"

The boy's voice, certain of her capability, was unwavering.

"Just stop!"

The road turned. I couldn't bear to look and waited for the sound of impact. She was hurtling towards a tree.

Silence, then a nervous giggle. Somehow she had diverted her course to the grass and rolled off easily. The boy was proud.

Thirty seconds later, he too had bolted past and they were on the way up as if nothing had happened. He asked her if she liked it here and wanted to stay. She said she didn't like being sweaty, and, laughing, rattled off a whole list of things she missed from home. They were still pushing scooters, but he was watching her with cocked head and contented half-smile. 

Somehow our eyes met, and I read the satisfaction on his face. If he were ten years older I would have gotten the "I got her" wink, but he was too innocent. I have hardly seen two people more at ease with each other in all my life.

This morning I saw him pushing his bicycle up the hill. He was alone, huffing and puffing with shoulders bent and eyes on the pavement, like any ordinary boy. I wondered where the girl was.

 - a camper

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