While the girls and I were visiting West Virginia, a little doggie showed up at our house to keep my husband company. Let me just say that my husband is the biggest sucker in the world for a stray animal. Both of our cats (Cat and Kitty...no longer with us) were strays and were ours at the word tuna. Adopting Tina was a result of a poor hurt pup that wandered into our garage in Cowpens that didn't make it. And we got Butchy after I was having a hard day and Scott took me on a trip to the pound to cheer me up. So I wasn't surprised that my husband put out food and water for this scraggly little terrier. I fell in love with him when we came home too...I call him Gus.
Gus stays in the front of our house. He wandered into the backyard one time this weekend and took quite the shine to Tina. She denied his Casanova moves and he decided to run back out of the garage from whence he came. Anyway, I've been feeling bad for Gus and wondering what we should do with him until I saw the kids. Scott was putting on Elizabeth's pajamas when Butch started barking up a storm. I looked out to see four kids (the oldest one looked about 10) booking it down the road on their bikes and Gus eating the biggest hamburger I've ever seen off a piece of newspaper. (The same newspaper he stole from the neighbor and tore up in our yard, but that's beside the point.) About five minutes later, that kids were back with a piece of toast and a cup of food. They deposit it on the paper and then watch from across the street. Holding Rachel, I went outside and asked the oldest girl if he was their dog. She said that he wasn't but that she really liked him. He had been playing in their yard and they had been planning what to feed him and how to rescue him all day. The cutest little blond boy with no shirt told me that he would take him if his mama let him. I told them that I thought he was very nice and would make a really good pet and went back in the house, smiling.
It reminded me of the adventures we had in our neighborhood on summer days with our bikes...Courtney, Angie, Ashley, Allison, Andrea, Jason and me. It always seemed that we had some sort of adventure to get into. One time, we made a cafe out of an old tree trunk and then another time, we were playing in the creek and saw a snake. Then there was the time that we found this treasure in the Bloss's backyard...which, 20 years later, Chris admitted to planting in the sandbox! (Pretty smart on her part. I think we dug for treasure for a straight week!) I realized that I had no need to worry about Gus - he would get taken care of and this would be a huge task of those kid's summer.
I think a lot about how fortunate I was to grow up across the street from great friends. I always had someone to go to the pool with or go outside and play with. I only hope that my girls can find the same thing.
And just as I hope, there's Natalia.
Natalia is our next door neighbor and is four years old. She is the cutest little thing with a Columbian accent like her mom with expressions to match. And she loves Elizabeth. She comes over all the time to ask if Elizabeth can come out to play and I hate that most of the time, we're getting ready to eat dinner. You never know what she's going to wear. One day, she had on a Dora one-piece swim suit with a skirt and church shoes. I said, "Natalia, are you going swimming?" She looked at me like I was crazy and said, "No." She's been to our house in a full princess costume (with Tiara and shoes) and also in jeans and a sweater in 90 degree heat.
About a month ago, she knocked at the door and I was cooking dinner and had Rachel in my arms and I said, "Do you just want to come inside and play?" Here she came! She and Elizabeth played in Elizabeth's room for a good thirty minutes, Natalia being very patient with the selfish play of a 20 month old. I listened to them and smiled, remembering the numerous times I ran over the hill, across the street to see Courtney. It's surreal to come full circle. It's a blessing.