Saturday, June 27, 2009

Me and my shadow

We took a family walk in the late afternoon. We greeted the face tree, we identified some tree species, and then we conceded to the heat and humidity and cut our customary path short. We don't usually approach home from the west. E ran up the hill and played on the front yard. L ambled along dragging her doll and her snack, poking at fallen leaves, attempting to remove air caps from tires (I stopped her, but we had a few differences of opinion on the necessity of my strictness) and feeding a few grapes from her snack bag to the storm drains.

So it was just the two of us, her sister, her daddy and grandparents long out of view, when we crested the hill and the sunlight hit us directly from behind. Dis! L inquired, and kicked at the ground in front of her. "That's your shadow, love," I explained. Although how do explain something you can see but not feel, moves as you move, and disappears when you run from it behind a tree? So she came back to the middle of the street and gestured a little more forcefully. Dis! DIS!

She tried to walk around it as it danced to the side with her. She dodged left but it anticipated her. Angrily, she ran again behind another tree, and of course by hiding in its shade her twin disappeared.

So she returned, cautiously, to the middle of the street. Of course, the little gray girl was there, too. And then what she did qualifies as one of those moments that reminds me she isn't a complete clone of her sister, because while E would have been screaming by now at not having outwitted the intangible enemy, L had a change of heart and sat down to make proper acquaintances.

Watching my girl plop her tushie on the blacktop, I was grateful yet again that we live on a Street of Very Little Traffic. (And yes, I hovered. But to the side, because shadow art was in the making.) Dis? she said again, less angrily. "Shadow, love. That's called your shadow." Dough, she said, pointing at where her facade's belly lay against a manhole cover, dough.

And then she stood again. She pulled her doll back up to her shoulder and we walked home. I was there, with my long shadow. And she was there, bouncing from one leg to another, her shadow leading the way home, the shape of a little girl who lifts her feet up high, whose head is framed by wispy curls, and whose doll's chenille strand hair hung from her left shoulder like handlebar streamers. And in a but a blink, we were home. Pin It