Twice a day, every day, Sydney takes us on a walk, either along the river to the Romping Grounds (an open field that is particularly fun in snow), along New Street to the dog park (which abuts the river), or along a grove of trees at the edge of our condo association, hereafter referred to as Ezra’s Grove.

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There we were, Syd and I, walking along in the shade of the cottonwood trees when I espied a little figure in the distance. It was apparent that she was watching us. Then I heard a pure little voice, “‘Scuse me! ‘Scuse me!”

I waved my hand to indicate that I’d heard her, and that I would walk closer. As we approached, I attached Sydney’s leash, because I knew there was a little boy in the house near her who was afraid of dogs. We got close and she, having waited impatiently, said, “‘Scuse me. My nana says I have to ask if I can pet your dog.”

I said sure, but warned her that the dog gets excited around little kids she likes, so she might try to jump up. But I held Sydney by my leg and the little girl patted Syd’s head gently, cooing at her. My guess is she’s about three years old, with curly golden hair and the open trusting face of a child who is loved.

“What’s his name?” she asked, pointing to the pup.

“Her name is Sydney,” I replied.

“Sippy!” She was delighted with the name.

“And I’m Ann. What’s your name?”

“Ezra,” came the shy reply.

“Nice to meet you, Ezra. Do you live around here?”

“I am with Nana,” she said, pointing to the closest house. Suddenly, she ran to the ramp up to the house and disappeared inside.

“Well, that was fun,” I commented to Sippy.

Here she was again. No explanation, just a return.

“Ant, do you have friends, lots of friends?” she asked, her enormous blue eyes focused seriously into mine. This deserved an honest answer.

“No, Ezra, no many. Not here. How about you? Do you have lots of friends?” At this point, a boy slightly older than Ezra joined us from the house. “Is this your friend?”

She looked at him a long moment and said, “He’s my cousin.”

“I am NOT your cousin!” He ran back into the house. Ezra looked at me: Whatever.

“I’ll bet you’ll make lots of friends once you start school,” I said, ignoring Sippy tugging on her leash, wanting to walk. “Hey, I have to take her over there,” I pointed to the end of our tree lane, “but I’ll be right back and you can pet Sippy some more.” (At this point, Sippy was done with cuddles and wanted to romp.)

“Okay.” Off she ran again into the house. Then back outside seconds later to join me at Nana’s side fence. “I have to check my rocks.” She pointed to a small tumble of rocks at the end of the fence.

We walked to the end of the fence and examined her rocks. Five rocks too large for her to have moved, and a bent piece of rebar. Apparently, all was as it should be because she seemed satisfied, just standing next to me, gazing around the grove. The silence of easy friendship.

“We’ll see you in a bit, Ezra,” responding to being tugged away by Sippy chomping on her leash.

“I have to check the other rocks,” she said, walking with us to the back fence, where large rocks had been shoved to block below the fence line.

“Maybe you’d better go back inside now. I don’t think Nana would want you to walk any farther. We’ll go to the end of the path and be right back, okay?”

“I just need to pet Sippy again.” She knelt and put a chubby little hand out to, sort of, pet her, though Sip wasn’t having any of it.

“Okay, back to Nana and we’ll see you in a bit.”

She wasn’t outside when we returned, even though Sip and I sat on the grass for five minutes and waited for her to appear. (I had nothing I needed to do more urgently at that moment. Friendships take time.)

I finished the walk on clouds. Maybe I don’t have lots of friends here, but Sippy and I had just made a new one, in Ezra’s Grove.