Two ibises clatter to the lawn like heavy flapping blankets, their wings noisy and ruffled. They stab their long dark beaks into the ground, somehow find breakfast in all that unmowed grass. The light catches the iridescence in their feathers, like a silk scarf peeking out from under an old man’s baggy overcoat.
P and I fill our bag with a water bottle, two squares of chocolate and Frozen Uno and walk towards the forest. She wants to take one ride on the zipline, but then insists we hurry to the prayer labyrinth “I have so many prayers stuck in here,” she jabs at her forehead with her fingers, “that I just need to get out.” When we arrive at the labyrinth, she kicks off her flipflops, presses her hands together at her heart and walks slowly over the leaves and stones. I follow a few steps behind her, then she stops and whispers, “When we pass each other, let’s hold hands a bit.” At the centre we arrange flower petals into patterns on the stone cross, then hurry back around the winding path so we have time to play Uno. She wins every time.
J collects butterfly wings, notices them in the grass, the dirt, the gravel. She keeps them in the pocket of her backpack for weeks until she remembers to transfer them to the treasure box buried deep in her closet. When she finds a butterfly almost as big as her hand, yellow and still near the swingset, she shows it to her friend who has never held a dead butterfly, is speechless at its fragile colour. J tells her she can keep it, knows that earth treasures are for sharing.
Phil and I sit on the porch in the dark, watch a white tailed mongoose glide across the lawn in front of us, hold our breath as it disappears into the shadows.