It was a beautiful day. The sun shone resplendent in its glory, kissing the clouds with pretty pinkness and blessing the blue sky with a golden halo. The landscape seemed to be waiting for me. I finished sweeping the kitchen, and, calling Jeremiah to my side, he and I escaped from the house and tripped down the sunroom stairs, our feet bare and my eyelet skirt billowing behind me. We skipped in the grass, and every once in a while, when the wind's beckoning was especially enticing, we sprinted down the slope, laughing together.
Jeremiah lead me to a tree trunk, fallen over our fence. Long vines hung from the tree branches above it, and we struggled for what seemed like a lifetime to balance-walk up the log at a perilous angle. Just at the very end, when we were a good three feet above the ground, and our bare feet were wobbling on the unsteady plank, we grabbed the tree vine and peered over into the wilderness on the other side of the fence into a jungle of bracken and green balls of fruit littering the ground before we jumped down.
I danced and sang across the field, and then was drawn by Jeremiah to our plum tree, which he tenaciously proceeded to climb. I looked on from the ground, quite skeptical. But Jeremiah had faith in my agility abilities, and before long I was huffing and puffing from a painful, dangerous heave into the branches. I sat down in a little nook until the ants and daddy-long-legs climbing up and down the branches had scared me sufficiently enough to try to get down. It was definitely harder to get down than to get up, but we both did succeed, with many bark-burns and scrapes, but an invigorating sense of restored childhood in heart. I envied the squirrels' limberness as they chattered around us, scampering quickly up the trees to gather their autumn harvest. Little chipmunks squatted on the branches, their cheeks puffed out with walnuts and their tiny hands clutching eagerly at their next mouthful.
We were almost through with our outside activities, and, as our last salute to nature, went on a hunt for pears in the pear tree. It was quite through producing, however, and our attention soon turned to an area of ground that was covered in green fruit balls, just like the ones we had seen from the fallen tree trunk. There must be a tree somewhere that produced these things. Jeremiah picked one up, timidly peeled away the orange-like crust, and stared at the ridged dark ball inside. I took it and began to tear away at the specimen, gradually realizing with joy that it was a walnut. So this was where those squirrels got their winter's food. I pried my fingernails into the black hull, trying to crack it open, but availed not, and Jeremiah and I soon abandoned the fruit and journeyed back inside.
A shower commenced, and, once the chiggers were well washed away, I dressed and grabbed the fingernail clippers to try to scrape the dirt from under my nails. The tips were blacker than I had ever seen, and no matter how deep I went or how harshly I scraped, the black would not go away. It was then that from the storage room in the back of my brain came a memory of a long-forgotten history lesson wherein I had read of the pioneers boiling black walnut hulls to make their ink. Horror filled me, and I ran to Annie to beg for assistance. I had dyed my fingertips black. She painted them red, but the black was much too bold for the polish, and the overall effect seemed to be that of a woman living in the London slums who paints her nails to hide the dirt underneath. In fact, for the first time in my life I felt like a Dickens character. Actually, it was just a bit romantic. It reminded me of the old scrapes I had read in Anne of Green Gables and other like children tomes. I mentally added a new chapter to the memoir that runs in my brain, and joyfully awaited the growing out of my nails. Thank God for calcium!