by Lisa

She practices, slowly at first, squatting to inspect small things.

Some come easily, learned along with Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.  Dandelion. Violet.  Tulip.  Clover. Daffodil. Moss. No lilies yet, but she likes them very much.

Some she refreshes each spring.  Henbit.  Feverfew.  Wild geranium.  Buttercup.  Azalea.  Hosta.  Mullein.  Poison ivy. Holly.

She does not discriminate against flowerless green things; leaves can be just as magnificent as blooms.  I am glad to have taught her so.

She looks up, dazzled by a pink fluffy not-redbud tree whose name I do not know.  If we were the king and queen, no, the queen and princess, we would live in a house with a tree like that.  I tell her that we can have a tree like that, but smaller.  A big tree has to start as a baby, and we might find one to plant in a big pot.  She laughs with her mouth open in awe, eyes wide, cheeks a little muddy.

The naming gets easier for her as the walk progresses.  She fires them at razor-scooter speed, too fast for my comfort but that is my problem.  Japanese maple.  Dogwood.  Rose, just the leaves: that one makes her proud.  She has found a secret.  Will be iris there.  Will be periwinkle.  Will be rose of sharon.  Will be lily of the valley.  Will be hard to mow that tall grass.

Glad that I know how to mow grass better than that guy up there who is having a hard time. Our grass looks smoother than his, which makes her happy.  He waited too long.  That mower won’t last the summer, she says.  He looks unhappy.  I smile when I mow.  Glad to know that, myself.

Bits of trash stop her progress, and I walk home with hands full of flat cans and plastic cup lids.  We have to save the ecosystem.  Who would throw this onto the street?  Pollution affects everyone.  People are selfish and don’t think about consequences.  In front of her friend’s house, we find an empty can of silly string.  She is appalled, and will bring up the subject tomorrow at school.  Preach, child.

My neighbor smiles and waves as she flies past.  He compliments her smooth scooting skills.  I tell him I want to put a leash on her to slow her down, but he just shakes his head and tells me to enjoy the ride.

She’s a good one, he says.  Quick on her feet, steady on her path, sweet to her mama.  He laughs as I cringe at a small wobble on the sidewalk ahead.  She has righted herself before I can take a breath.

Pots of flowerless green things on the porch were just dirt not long ago.  Now, they have names and purposes, and we are home.