An Afternoon Escape
It was an adventure, every time, to walk through the bushes that began just beyond the backdoor of the kitchen. The path began just behind the galvanized tubs my mother washed our clothes in. I ducked beneath the laundry on the line and I was gone, following forest ways where the goats and monkeys had bent boughs and branches and where the water had made ruts in the earth. I’d slip away to play, before my mother could call out chores, and spend my afternoon stalking Zenaida doves in the tangled wood. As I moved farther from the house the wispy vines and nettles gave way to broader leaves and the trees became taller. The color of the earth changed too, marking where the mountain began.
The paths lead up to a high hilltop field that had been cleared long ago for grazing and where ponds had been dug for water. There were ancient stone walls and the ruins of animal pens where bees had made their hives. Lost in the soil were broken bits of pottery and rusted debris that told the story of a village from long ago. Amidst the pale grass were scattered white cattle bones, and overall the smell of arid earth and honey.
The other day, to see if I still knew the way, I set out to find the old field. I took my family with me, though I feared the ponds might have dried up, or filled in with the silt of the years that had passed since I was a boy. I feared my children would grow tired before we found what we were looking for and that we’d turn back with them wondering why I had led them up the mountain at all. But my daughters ran ahead of me, like children chasing fairies, like I used to chase the doves, and they found on their own the pools that I remembered, and the pools were still filled with pink lilies.