We have two youngsters staying with us for the summer and one of them is A., who everyone calls the Little Girl. It's said with considerable admiration. This is a girl who can keep up with her adventurous older brother through the woods and over rocky beaches--but she insists she do it with a rhinestone-studded, colorful fan in her hand.
She unfurls it with a practiced snap and wafts the bugs away as she studies the remains of an old shipwreck and wonders where the poor owner is today.
She's a spindly, light creature. When she wades in the water in her rubber boots, every time she takes a step her boot floats as if there's nothing but air in it. Yet, the Little Girl manages to keep up as we wade through a sea of rustling, entangling salal brush that is, in some places, over her head.
"Is that a cave?" the Little Girl asks when she sees a dark niche in a wall of tumbled and stacked granite. "I'm going to check it out."
With her fan in her hand and a bottle of water in a plastic bag tied to her lifevest, she determinedly investigates.
"It's not a cave," she reports. "It's just a crack in the rocks with a log on top." She obviously thinks this rock shore could have been arranged more interestingly, and would have been if she'd had a hand in the designing of it.
"What in the world--?"
The Little Girl inspects the root system of a tree planted upside down in the gravel beach.
On top of its roots a new young tree has sprouted. I can't help wondering what she's thinking as she stands contemplating the curious vision as if she's looking at a display in the Museum of Modern Art.
"Where are we going now?" the Little Girl asks, ready for the next challenge.
"Up ahead there's a tiny canyon in the rocks that has red gravel, like you'd find on Mars."
The Little Girl isn't about to miss out on a trip to Mars. On the way, she finds a bit of rope and when we get to the red rocks she experiments with the idea of being a cowgirl on Mars.
She swings the rope in a loop over her head. Unfortunately there are no cows on Mars for her to lasso.
On the way home she goes from the red rocks of another planet to the violet of a sea of mussels. The Little Girl is pleased with her accessorizing for this wilderness trip. She thinks the mussels go well with her fan.
Tara Neilson (ADOW)