the sad little mouse.
i was 7 going on 8 years old.
i went to washington elementary school.
it was a pretty good year.
we lived in canon city colorado. a beautiful valley with mountains all
i walked 11 blocks to school 4 times a day.
the first morning on my own . . . walking to 2nd grade in the new school . .
i got lost.
i remember the crisp cold air. the smoke coming out of all the chimneys.
the smell of coal. that was the fuel then.
to this day i love that smell.
i got so lost.
i stopped at a house and walked up and rang the bell.
a nice lady came out and told me which way to go.
i had a little red plaid book bag. with a brand new big chief tablet and
a yellow pencil in it. and a pink eraser. and a little pot of paste. (it was
good to eat) and a pack of crayolas and that was all.
because i lived one block less than a mile from the school i had to eat at
so i walked back home for lunch! then back to school!
the days of one car per family.
i thought my life was wonderful. at least most of the time.
i had a secret place.
it was a hollowed out cottonwood tree so big that a small little girl could
sit in it when her heart was breaking. it held her dramatic tears and never
said a word to anyone. it was the beginning of my love affair with all trees.
the day i ran away is the day i learned to make cloud pictures.
i was very mad.
i don’t know why.
but i was mad enough to pack my little red plaid book bag with a t-shirt and
my tooth brush. i had very good dental habits.
i was NEVER coming back.
i walked across our big back yard down the alley.
i crossed the little irrigation ditch and knocked on the door of our neighbor
the old widow . . . mrs. crites.
she let me in.
she fixed us milk and cookies on a tray.
we went to her front screened-in porch.
we sat on white wicker chairs . . . did mrs crites and me.
a lot like i sit on now in the wee blink bonnie.
we didn’t talk much. i didn’t want to discuss why i was running away
when she finally started to talk it was so soothing.
she told me all about her late husband who had been a US marshal in the
days of the wild wild west. she got up and came back with a box.
in the box was a silver badge shaped like a star. only it had a dent in it.
then she taught me how to make cloud pictures from the sky in my mind.
we sat there sipping cold milk and eating warm cookies and making cloud
pictures for each other.
pretty soon i picked up my little red plaid book bag and left through mrs
crites’ back door. just the way i had come in.
i crossed the little irrigation ditch and walked down the alley a bit to my
and that was the day i ran away.
i still love clouds.
a US marshal’s wife taught me that.
a long time ago.
he wore a silver badge shaped like a star.
it had a dent in it.