A WALK IN THE WOODS

 

a golden autumn leafMama wanted me to button. My fingers felt a button: a hole went through. The coat hung heavy. She turned me around.

“Hold the hole out,” said Mama. “Now put the button in…See?

“No. Do another one.”

She handed me a shoe.

“The other one.”

I dropped down steps, slowly, from heavy shoe step to heavy shoe step to the bottom. Then ran down the back steps and over to the pool. The willow leaves had turned greenish-yellow and now yellow and had started falling. The pool was dark. The Monsters were gone. They never came back.

That afternoon Daddy brought out the dogs and We went for a walk. Daddy and Mama had dogs on leads. Around a white-and-brown tree the dogs ran pulling: rocks and brown balls covered the ground. Mama turned. My hand lifted a brown ball. To touch with a finger it became soft, and falling apart. I blew and parts came off and floated away. She leaned down.

“Look Mama.”

I rolled over on my head between my legs and blew brown ball at Her.

“What a sight,” She said.

The road stopped Us. Each way I looked for cars. A car was coming. Mama said Come on. I stared at the car coming. She walked back and took my hand and led me to the other side. The car was a long way coming but it was coming.

The woods were yellow. Daddy bent down taking off leads. Under the yellow seemed strange like being in darkness without the dark. The dogs ran back and forth sniffing leaves. The leaves felt thick to walk through, soft, yellow kick-through leaves. Mama held my hand: beside Them I felt older walking the woods. Green covered a rock. It was the only green. Daddy waited. Mama said, “Moss. Feel it mossy?”

Oooooh what is that? A giant Eye! I squeezed Mama’s hand. “Ooooh Mama.” The Eye stared. She reached to touch…the Eye rising UP AT US, waving and waving away, high among the yellow trees.

“Just a moth,” She said….I saw, very strange.

There was one. Another. And another. Each was white and had a brown roof.

“Toadstools!” said Mama.

I knelt to see.

“These are stools for toads to sit on.”

“Wha—?”

“Toads.”

“—?”

“You know the frogs you chase in the lily pool? a toad is a frog who lives on land.”

“Stool?”

“They have to have stools to sit on.”

“On a stool?”

“Stools for toads to sit on.”

I didn’t see how.

“Can toads sit on those?” I asked Daddy.

“If Mama says so,” He said.

No it couldn’t sit on that.

“No it doesn’t,” I said.

“Toads must have seats too,” said Mama.

I couldn’t think what to say.

“No it doesn’t,” I said and thought,

I have never seen anything like these: they are the funniest things. The dogs were running and sniffing ahead of Us. We left the woods, dogs on leads, and crossed into Our driveway.

Already the sun was sinking. The afternoon had turned dark, but still I saw the yellow woods of yellow leaves as far as could be seen. And flying Eyes and greenish moss…and strange brown sights like toad stools, growing out of nowhere.

…from the book CHILDHOOD

 

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