“When will we be safe?” the six year old boy asked, a fog of confusion and anxiety whirling in his mind as they restlessly waited in St. Joseph to jump off.
“When ya’ come into your inheritance. Then ya’ll be emancipated,” she said.
“Like the slaves?”
“Sort o’,” she answered patiently as she adjusted the quilt around his little body.
“When will that be?”
“When you’re sixteen. Ya’ll have a reliable income then an’ ya can go your own way, make your own decisions, be your own man, take care o’ your sister.”
“What will we do until then?”
“We’ll be a family,” her simple answer, stroking his face tenderly. “We’ll do as we must.”
Mirroring the sun that glittered through cedar and hemlock boughs on a June day that promised to be warm, sunny and perfect, he blinked his obsidian eyes blinked twice at the brightness growing over the dew glistening meadow and lush garden.
Feathers ruffled against dawn’s chill, sinewy muscles grown stiff in the night stretched; first to the left then to the right. The bird shook and fanned his wings, allowing the amity of Sol to remedy both conditions. Rainbows shimmered across his blue-black feathers as the sun’s rays displaced the dewy damp.
Most of his family sheltered in the dense branches of the lofty hemlocks silhouetted by the growing sunrise on the other side of the pasture, where soon the cattle would sedately graze. He and two of his brothers preferred to roost here on the roof, huddled in the protection of the warm chimney.
He could sense his breakfast, tasty beetles, centipedes and moth larvae, begin to stir underneath the warming cedar shingles beneath his feet.
Instead of simply making the raspy invitation call to feed, this glorious morning he decided to personally relate the rooftop dining delights on offer to his family, who waited in the safety of the hemlocks.
Leaping into the air, he flapped furiously until he found a light breeze that lifted him up, up, up into the thin thermals forming over the warming fields.
He could not contain his exuberance as he rose higher and higher, surveying the landscape below, wheeling north then banking east toward the forest less than a quarter mile away where his family with all the younglings habitually roosted.
When he rose into the brilliant blue and faced the dazzling yellow disc emerging from behind the mountains, something in him said, “Keep flying!”