Because I could not run, I spent the year of the Critter going on long walks through the park, taking different paths just to see where they go. In that time, I discovered waterways, bridges, and grassy knolls that in about six years of going to the park several times a week I never knew existed. If it weren't for the Critter, I might have kept on running on the same paths as before. I might never have followed the Lullwater Trail or climbed to one of the highest points of the park to see the silver ribbon of the sea at the horizon.
Below: the Critter on his first walk in Prospect Park. I did all of the walking; he slept.
It's difficult to believe that a year ago today, the Critter was hardly more than a wish—either just conceived or about to be. Among the scraps of poems, stories, and songs that my mind has returned to again and again since the Critter's birth is a passage in To Kill a Mockingbird. Dill has run away from his folks because, he says, they weren't interested in him and didn't want him around. Scout cannot comprehend this situation.
As Dill explained, I found myself wondering what life would be like if Jem were different, even from what he was now; what I would do if Atticus did not feel the necessity of my presence, help and advice. Why, he couldn't get along a day without me. Even Calpurnia couldn't get along unless I was there. They needed me.Now that he's here—and has changed everything—how I need my little Critter.
Many blessings to all in 2009.