It is twilight and after a weekend of nonstop rain, we venture outside. The skies, battered and bruised, are too weary to hold the sinking sun.
We sport sandals for our travels. My sandals are sturdy and practical - the kind worn for hiking or kayaking. But I have no mountain to climb and no canoe to paddle, only a quiet street that circles our neighborhood.
My companion is my daughter who is 3 years old. She is raging from two days of cabin fever. Her sandals are two pieces of lavender foam covered with the straw of a hula-hula skirt. These are her prized "fancy shoes." Like any beautiful footwear, they adorn feet but do not actually fit. The elastic of each sandal wraps around my daughter's ankle and slings her wide, flat foot forward. Her chipped pink toenails grip the front edge of the sandal as she saunters about.
Before our departure outside, she announces that she needs her camera to take pictures of the jacaranda tree. It stands on the other side of the neighborhood. In August, the lavender blooms are a memory's mirage from spring. I tell my daughter gently that the flowers are gone. She scowls and I can see that my words do not convince her. She carries the camera outside anyway.
Winding and clicking the toy precisely, she carefully frames her "test" subjects - a mailbox, a row of rocks, a cat, a flattened palm frond lying in the middle of the road. We approach a man and woman who oblige my daughter's request to say cheese. They pose with arms draped around the others' shoulders. Another neighbor gamely pauses his yard work for the photographer. He protests as he smiles that he's sweaty and goofy looking. That's okay, I holler over the din of his idling lawn mower. There's no film in the camera. He looks almost disappointed as we walk away.
The wind flaps through the trees on the darkening street and we sprint homeward in our sandals designed for hiking and fashion, but not running. My daughter crashes suddenly to the ground. She bellows with laughter as I pick her up and pick out the gravel embedded in her knees. She looks up expectantly at the jacaranda tree, for this is where she has stumbled. The tree is absent color, but the sky is not. It covers us in a soft purple light as we make our way home.
- Nini Covert, a registered nurse, lives in Largo.