One night this week I struggled to consciousness from the depths of an awful dream in which I allowed my 2-year-old to climb into the back of a stranger's SUV. She innocently scaled her way up into the waiting car seat by herself and buckled her belt as the car peeled away from the curb where I stood frozen in fear. It was a ritual unknown to me and I fought through fog to focus on the vehicle's license plate before it fled from view. My 6-year-old chattered happily next to me, smiling up at me and holding my hand while explaining that her sister would be fine because the male driver of the car was "hers." I was utterly helpless, somehow complicit in endangering my child in a way I found confusing.
In the morning as I hung laundry on the clothesline to dry-- a ritual that connects me to a long line of women gone before-- I watched the dawn slowly lighting up a thick fog that hung low to the ground. I had strung bright swaths of colors on the breeze and felt surrounded by a spectacle. But I must have been very quiet, because I heard the sound of deer snorting somewhere close by. I struggled to see them at first in the fog, but then a tiny fawn the size and shape of a child's half collapsed lawn chair skittered into view, running in circles. Her mother followed close behind her. The two came in and out of view in the mist. They were playing.