A Storybook Day
You have to spend one day as or with your favorite fictional character. Which one would it be and what would you do?
The sky was a vast blue canopy, dotted with dandelion-puff clouds that were driven by a summer breeze. Now and then, an eagle would bee-line across the horizon, searching the nearby river for its next snack.
Heidi and I sat on our jackets in the sweetgrass, both chewing on fresh mountain clover. Knees pulled up under our dirndl skirts and arms clasped around our knees, we watched in silence as nature performed for us. The sun was a welcome spotlight, keeping us comfortable on the chilly mountainside.
“What shall we do?” asked Heidi.
“I like what we’re doing now just fine,” I replied.
“Oh, but there’s so much for me to show you. I love watching the goats, and they’re not far from here.”
“Well, sure, we can do that. But I have an idea it’s not the goats so much as it’s the goatherd.” I smiled at her quick flush and lowered eyelids.
So we gathered up the hamper that contained our food for the day and began our trek to the next high meadow, where Peter sat watch on his little herd. We could hear them bleating. It wasn’t long before they came into view, and Peter stood and waved his cap at us.
“Hey! What are you doing so high up the mountain this early in the day?”
“I wanted Linda to see your goats,” called Heidi. “She’s never seen a herd before, can you imagine?”
We sat on warm, flat rocks and watched. The new babies were full of the joy of being alive, and made me want to skip, hop, jump and run just as they did. I couldn’t help but smile as I enjoyed their antics.
But Heidi was restless.
“Come on. I want to show you my secret place,” she called as she skipped off in a hurry.
We walked for maybe twenty minutes, encouraged by the rippling of the river and the pushy breeze behind us. When Heidi stopped, she pointed at what seemed to be nothing more than wild shrubbery dotted with blossoms that she said would soon be berries.
“Come on, follow me, and go exactly where I go,” she said.
On our hands and knees, we crawled under the shrubbery. It was quickly dark, earth-smelling, and chilly. We crawled for only a few minutes before Heidi stopped, turned and smiled at me, and said, “What do you think?”
To my utter amazement, we were in a small clearing that was densely surrounded by vegetation, including tall mountain pines. But there was sunlight streaming through the trees, making our clearing warm and bright. It was full of lupine and other wild flowers that I didn’t know, and it smelled of grass, flowers, earth, and pine.
“I come here when I need to be alone,” said Heidi. “Sometimes I don’t even want Peter. I just want to be alone to think and dream and sleep if I feel like it. No one has ever found me here. It feels very safe and private.”
“Yes, I can see how you would love coming here,” I replied. “Are you hungry? My stomach is growling.” So we unpacked the hamper, enjoying good goatcheese, brown bread, and fresh milk in a stoppered bottle. For dessert there were little pies that Heidi and I had made the previous day. We ate our fill, then stretched out and fell asleep under the friendly warmth of the sun.
Later, as we made our way back to Grandfather’s cabin, I told Heidi I thought she had the best life in the world, and that I wished I could stay longer.
“Well, you can always come back whenever you want. Just read my book!”