The Girl with the Metal Bowl
"See I told you she'd come!" I heard my youngest daughter Faith shout to her friends. I'd wandered down to the beach to watch her play for awhile.
"Watch Mom! Watch!"
A parade of headless legs and feet - wiggling and waggling across the water - are presented as a magnificent display just for me. I watched faithfully as they struggled through the water, tilting and drifting in a centipede line.
"Wonderful!" I shouted when their heads poked out once again above the waves. "Absolutely wonderful!"
A stray dog, longish fur wet with salt water and covered in sand, bounded towards me and dropped a driftwood stick a few feet away from my feet. Fully satisfied the dog sat back on its haunches, tongue lolling out, doggy pride plastered on its happy jester face.
"I can't reach that stick," I tell the dog, "bring it here".
The stray dog immediately proceeded to vigorously dig a hole in the sand watching me (it seemed) out of the corner of its eyes (it seemed) with some faint amusement.
"That's not doing any good! If you want me to throw the stick, you'll have to bring it right to me."
"Mom! Are you watching?" an accusing voice rose from the water.
"'Yes Baby. It's wonderful!"
The dog picked up the stick and took it straight to my daughter. Dropping it at her feet, Faith obligingly picked it up, climbed up onto the dock and waited for the dog to join her there. The dog just as faithfully complied. Content, all was well, dog and child together, my daughter valiantly threw the stick as far as she could into the water. The stray shot off the dock extending it's legs, front and back, Superdog flying through the air and landed churning water and sand. He circled the stick, grabbed it between his shiny pointed doggy teeth and returned to the beach. Oscillating and shaking water and fur and sand and something that certainly (it seemed to me) looked like joy out into the world. That job done, the dog vaulted up again onto the dock and laid the stick directly at Faith's feet once again.
"Oh hi Brandy. Hi Sarah," Faith shouted at two new girls walking down the steep grassy slope to the beach and the swim area.
One of the girls was carrying a metal bowl and a wooden stirring spoon. She has Downs Syndrom. Both girls walked down to the water. The one chattered with my daughter and her friends and the other took the metal bowl and filled it with water and then trudged back up the beach and sat down in the sand quite close to where I was. I watched her entertainment as she took spoonfuls of sand and sifted it over the water in the metal bowl, peering quite intently at the grains of sand as they sank in the water and then she stirred the contents of the metal bowl somewhat languidly. She didn't clink the spoon. Satisfaction reached she then bent down for another spoonful. This process was methodically repeated several times before I was distracted.
Out in the water, Faith grabbed the thick fur around the stray dog's neck and hitchhiked a ride.
"Cool!" I shouted and took in my daughter and her friends and the stray dog and the crows and the girl with the metal bowl.
"What am I going to tell my friends?" the crows bicker.
"Pardon me?" I say to the girl with the metal bowl thinking she'd said something to me.
"Nothing", she murmured and continued with her mixing.
"Mom!" and I looked up to see Faith throwing a handful of sand into the air. The stray dog snapped at it, trying to catch the disintegrating sand and then ran its tongue uncomfortably through the air attempting to dislodge the mud.
"That's not nice", I shout to my daughter, "How'd you like to get a mouthful of dirt?"
"Ah Mom", my daughter stopped. Hands on her hips, cocking her head, damp pony tail bouncing behind, "You laughed!"
"I did not", I say indignantly.
"Yes you did."
"I did not!"
Quietly, but I heard her quite clearly, at my side, the girl with the metal bowl whispered, "I did."
My head snapped back to look at the girl by my side. She smiled at me and went back to her stirring, "I did".
I looked up to see Faith dangling from the scruff of the stray dog's fur swimming out to her friends. Off in the distance the crows flew away. I stood up, wiped sand from my backside and smiled and wave goodbye to the girl with the metal bowl. She smiled and waved back. I shouted to my daughter, "I love you".