It was after 7 p.m. and she wanted to walk with me.
"Go on out and I'll catch up with you in a minute," she said.
I rounded the corner of the house, flattened myself against the wall and waited. She came running to find me, threw her arms up in surprise, never imagining I would get out of sight so fast.
She turned around and saw me. We laughed.
We passed by the neighbor's honeysuckle, and the air was full of its fragrance. The wind blew warm around us. Evening light. Leaf rustle. She reached for my hand and we walked in silence. These homes around us, a familiar vista almost five years.
At one house they handed out apple juice boxes at Halloween. Another house sits back on a hill. A dance instructor lives in one by us. And there's Miss Helen's, and we love her.
Near the turnaround, there's a low rancher, and tonight a father sits on the porch with his child playing nearby. She was such a baby in another season, and look at her now! So big! I waved low. He waved back.
Next door to them, the hospitality house sits quiet. I notice it, the quiet and stillness of it. It makes me think of the day when our table will be for two. When the laughter of littles moves on. Will our house seem too big?
We keep walking.
Looping around, we see the mom join her family in the yard. I look at Lanie. She smiles at me and leans in to whisper, "I remember when that little girl was just a baby. She was just a baby. Look how big she is now!"
And I know it too well.
Soon we're back on our driveway, walking into the woods.
She talks to me about mascara.
In the birdhouse, a new generation cries out.