The green, wooded hills are so lush you could make a smoothie out of them, and they tantalize me as I look out the window. At least my office window faces a hillside instead of a wall of brick. Between phone calls and E-mails I observe our flock of ducks flapping in the yard, nesting in the grass, and snapping happily at bugs. I can see that the cows in the upper pasture have eaten most of their grass and resort to trimming trees. Jack, the bull, straddles flimsy saplings and walks them over so he can munch the tip-top, tender leaves. I hear my brother Joel calling to Mama from the cluster of trees we call the Jungle Gym. He has spent all day exploring, and is shouting up to the house to let her know he is still alive. He stands in the tall grass on the wood’s edge, and I see my older siblings and myself sixteen years ago. We used to play in the Jungle Gym during long summer afternoons and into twilight, when the gold of the setting sun turns all the leaves into emerald glory. It is good that the youngest also knows the joy of swinging from trees and hunting chipmunks; the wonder of becoming so dirty you blend in with the forest floor.

Another day, and I think about heading to my office. Joel stops me and asks me, “Do you want to go exploring?” So often the response must be, “I’m sorry, how I want to, but I have to work.”

“You have to go to your tower?” he questions, wistfully. The tower is what my family calls the office, for I work on the top floor of our farmhouse. “Yes, I have to go to my tower. . . but maybe I can go exploring for just a little while. You go ahead and I’ll join if I can.”

A little while later and I run down to the path behind our pond that leads over the old stone dam, up into a thicket of brambles. I’m not the only thing to have grown up in the past sixteen years. Fighting through, I tip-toe to the edge of the Jungle Gym, wondering if I can catch Joel by surprise.

“Hi, Klara.”

“Oh, bother, you heard me.”

“Yeah, and at first you scared me, and I thought, What is that? A wolf? Look at how I can hold on to this rope swing and push off of these trees!” And away he goes, spinning wildly, nearly knocking his head on a tree trunk.

“Maybe you should watch where you are going,” I suggest.

“Yeah, I guess, but I get sort of scared, so I shut my eyes.”

We take a few more spins on the swing, and then he suggests we hop from rock to rock in a race to an even bigger rock. Scrambling helter-skelter, he manages to beat me. Both times. We have a tree climbing race and I win this one. I remember when I was too small to climb the same tree, and my sisters would hoist me up into the branches with a rope and pulley. Aren’t I lucky to have a lifetime of green and golden days.

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