It is early evening. Henry and I have just taken the last bolt out of the swing set. We pull it apart into manageable pieces and carry them to the side of the house. We'll load them on the truck Saturday morning with everything else.
Erin: It's such a beautiful night, guys. Let's go for a walk.
The kids balk. They're tired. They want to practice handstands.
Me: We're going to be really busy in the next couple of days. This could be our last chance to go for a walk together.
Jane: OK. But I'm bringing Gerry.
Jane's hands are cupped around something. Blades of grass stick out between her fingers.
Me: Who is Gerry?
Jane: My pet cricket.
We walk north along the treeline through the long grass of our neighbour's field. Erin is quiet. This is hard.
Henry: I've got something in my shoe!
Me: Take it off.
Henry: It's wet!
Erin helps him remove the grass from his shoe. We keep walking.
We turn a corner and look into the valley that defines Springvale, PEI. The sun, low in the sky, bathes the green and yellow fields in the golden light of early fall.
Me: So beautiful.
Erin: We are punishing ourselves.
We walk into the valley. Alice is amazed by how long her shadow is.
Alice: I am so big!
Jane talks about how much she loves Gerry. She shows me his little head sticking out of her hands. It is green.
Me: Gerry's not a cricket. He's a grasshopper!
Jane: A grasshopper?
Me: Yup. Careful. They spit brown juice.
She flings Gerry to the ground. A minute later, she is crying.
Jane: Why did you have to tell me that? I'll never see him again.
Me: I'm sorry. If I could take it back, I would.
We come to another line of trees. It's as good a place as any to turn around. Erin grabs my hand.
Erin: This was a good place for us. It was exactly what we needed exactly when we needed it. But it's time to go.
I nod. She is smiling. Her eyes are not smiling.
We climb out of the valley. Jane searches for Gerry. More wet grass sneaks into Henry's shoe.
In our yard, where the swing set was, there are two bare patches where the grass doesn't grow. The earth here has been trampled down by bare feet dangling, spinning, flying high, swinging low. Up and down. Up and down. These are the marks that say we were here.