A certain spot in the woods obscures itself for over half the year; I can see it from my front step, from my yard, from my meadow, from the place where a deck could be in the future.
I plan to spend coffee time on that deck, breathing the forest air deeply and trying not to think about mosquitoes and bundling up warmly to brush away snow and sit, with my coffee – not strong, hazelnut syrup, double cream – for as long as I please.
I will look at that spot in the woods and nod to it and lift my coffee cup and listen to it and talk to it and exchange the news of the world.
This tangle of hemlock-on-hemlock obscures itself by dark needle and distance and, on a good mist-rising morning, by holding itself back behind the beaver pond, so that the mist occludes it.
But then the snow falls
and every needle stands out sharp and clear as crystal
The mild and hidden goddess, revealed as shining power for a moment before she shrouds herself again and walks among the Tree People.
Horatio Hound wiggled his whiskers in his sleep. He twitched his paws. He ruffled his very long ears. Finally he opened his eyes and rolled onto his tummy.
“No, no,” said The Cat, “you rolled the wrong way! Now you’re out of the sunlight!” The Cat was a championship sunbather.
“But hark, The Cat! I perceived a sound!” replied Horatio, his nostrils flaring.
“Is it a mouse?” asked The Cat.
“No, regrettably, it is not a mouse,” answered Horatio. The Cat sighed, re-wrapped her tail around her paws, closed her eyes, and returned to her meditations.
Horatio, not content to let a new, strange sound go uninvestigated, stretched and stood and listened. The sound drifted into the sunny parlour from the kitchen, and it was a sound of crying.
Alert now, Horatio Hound trotted to the kitchen where he found Baby Walter wailing disconsolately at his mother, sitting up high in the high chair.
“The pink pachyderm! The pink pachyderm has fallen to its doom!” wailed Baby Walter. He was only one year old, so he could still speak the language of animals. “Alas and alack! Mother, why do you not understand me?”
Horatio licked Baby Walter on the foot in a comforting manner and answered. “Baby Walter, your lovely mother speaks only the limited language of humans! She is unable to comprehend this situation. Please, friend, allow me to attempt sign language with her! Tell me where the pink pachyderm may yet be found.”
Baby Walter sobbed a small sob and slowed the ferocity of his outcries. “West-by-southwest it fell, toward the bright constellation of Scorpius, but it fell so far that I can no longer perceive it.”
Horatio took a sniff to find the North Star (which a good hound can detect even by daylight). He turned himself three times around to activate the magnetic compass in his brain. He found west-by-southwest exactly, put nose to the floor, and began tracking the toy.
Suddenly, he caught the scent of a well-loved stuffy! Nosing under the couch and straining his head as far as he could go, Horatio found the pink pachyderm and picked it up in his teeth, saved!
He returned to where Mommy was trying to comfort Baby Walter and sat proudly, toy dangling from his mouth.
Mommy said something in human language and then said “Good boy, Horatio,” and accepted the slightly soggy pink pachyderm.
“Thank you, Horatio,” said Baby Walter, now calm, from up in the high chair.