The thing that I love to do the most is to get right down on my knees, spread my fingertips apart and stick them into the grass just above the ground. Rush my fingers in between the weave of roots and blades. The clumps feel true in my hands, it’s like I’ve got the earth by its hair.

I do this early. When the house is still beneath it’s blanket and I can get out into the yard without any requests. I wake and notice that my young son has a little scent of chlorine left in his hair. A hint of yesterday’s water through which we ran and swam. I softly wiggle out from underneath the arm he has flung over me and over to the edge of the pull-out bed tucking the comforter back under him to help him replace the warmth that I am taking with me.

After slipping on a clean t-shirt and the board shorts that I wore yesterday I step barefooted through the kitchen. The coffee maker already grumbling through its routine. The lock on the half door chirps a little when I twist it and as I wade down into the cool basement air I turn the corner at the landing to see a floor full of pillows and blankets and nieces and nephews. A pile of happy, exhausted kids all sleeping where they fell. The great Cousin Army. Invading pools and barbecues across the county.

On the porch I am wrapped in the early air. It is soft and fresh. The bright scent of plants and the dull smell of stone. There is water in the creek gulping and bouncing between the rocks, whispering forest songs as it runs off deeper into the woods.
Slipping my index finger underneath the hooked metal pin and flicking the captive latch up out of its loop I release the screen door with a satisfying clink.

I sneak strategic on the balls of my feet along the cool smooth stones to avoid the gravel in the gaps and the occasional pebble marooned on top of one of the flagstones. The sun is stretching it’s summer fingers into the forest. The light is a giant buttery ball half melted and thrown from the sun so that it splatters through the trunks and leaves.

As I reach the end of the flagstone path I dive into the lawn.