Mazzy is a city kid. So is Harlow, although she doesn’t know it yet.
They can walk to a toy store, a pizza place, a library, a movie theater, and an ice cream shop all within a one block radius of our apartment. They can take a short subway ride to some of the best museums in the world. They have access to free summer concerts, the Union Square Farmer’s Market, the Central Park Zoo and the Gazillion Bubble Show.
But they do not have a backyard.
When they want to go outside, they’ve got a balcony, a small communal roof space and a playground two blocks away. On rainy days, when they need to run around, we utilize the hallway outside our apartment (much to our childless neighbors’ dismay).
They have never had as much access to the outdoors as they currently have at the summer house we rented for the month of August.
We’ve got a little over an acre in a long lot that stretches from the street to a creek out back, which empties into the bay. It’s not a landscaped or manicured lawn. It’s got patches of uneven grass and mounds of dirt with gnarled roots jutting out of the ground. It’s got tree stumps and wild flowers and the occasional pile of goose poop.
Our first night, we spotted a deer while we were eating dinner. We peered at him through the window and he peered back at us before running off and disappearing into the brush.
Every day we walk down to the dock and check out the rising of the tide. When it’s low we can see crabs crawling through the long tangled grass, schools of minnows swimming by and the shell of a horseshoe crab bobbing up and down at the edge of the water.
Mazzy is in heaven. The kind of heaven only an acre of land with fifty foot tall trees can provide.
Those trees have become a playhouse, a toll bridge, a command center, a space ship, a castle and the parameters for the island of Sodor, all within one day. Every time I turn around, Mazzy has devised a new game or is pretending to be something else in somewhere new.
Yesterday, she pretended the path of stones leading to the side entrance was a river and she had to jump from stone to stone without falling in. She introduced me to the concept of “tree bark” like it was the first time I was noticing it too, and told me very seriously that her “job” was to pick off the green moss growing on the side. She gathered a bouquet of leaves, set them up on her art table and traced each one of them on paper with a crayon, with no prompting from me whatsoever.
She points out bugs, gathers dandelions, runs after butterflies, and brandishes sticks like she’s defending her territory.
At night, I wash Mazzy’s filthy bare feet in the sink and brush leaves out of her thick tangled hair as she tries to wiggle out of my grasp. I tell her not to itch her bug bites. I picked two huge splinters out of her foot that she got from the weathered wood porch outside the backdoor, while she screamed her head off.
The great outdoors is not without it’s drawbacks.
This morning at 6:30am, while Mazzy and Harlow were eating breakfast, we noticed geese congregating on the lawn by the dock. After three weeks here, we knew that meant they would all be taking a ceremonious dump on our property.
Mike said he was going down there to scare them off and Mazzy asked to ride on his shoulders.
I wish I knew what a magnficent sight it would be to see my daughter riding my husband’s shoulders into the morning mist with thirty geese swirling above their heads, flapping their massive wings to flee our yard towards the water. THAT would have been a picture worth more than all the museum memberships in Manhattan. A spectacle that beat anything I saw at the Gazillion Bubble Show.
Mazzy might be a city kid, but she is fearless out here. Wild and free.
I will miss that once we are safely back in our goose-poop-free apartment.