Sunday, 8:45p.m. Someday Farm.
The kids are finally in bed. D is passed out on Jade's futon. The dishes loom, laundry lurks, the kitchen floor looks like it's been noodle-bombed. But I quietly open the creaky closet, slide on my coat and sneak out the back door.
I take a deep breath. A winter night, and it's all mine.
There's a big ring round the moon and the snow glitters with diamond sparkles. No wind tonight, for once, so I can hear the river rushing along behind the treeline, and owls hooting hellos to each other in the sentinel pines. Their chuckles echo off the barn wall. I can even hear Ms. Red Squirrel tossing in her sleep inside the hollow of our chestnut tree. I'm alone, and not alone.
Then I hear a snort. I turn to see ten deer in the south field, maybe six car lengths away from me. One is meandering along the edge of our lawn, snuffling the ground in search of old apples. Then she spies me and stands perfectly still. I stand perfectly still. I hold my breath.
Our screen door, which I've neglected to close tightly behind me, makes a terrible clang as it slams shut, scaring the hell out of me, the deer and the owls. The deer flicks her tail and gallops off with her sisters, fast, then faster, until they're just blurry bounding specks heading for the safety of the trees.
After a pause, the owls begin to chat again. The snow is still full of diamonds. The river keeps rushing.
I take another deep breath, and smile.