I wake Squish while it's still dark. She gets ready as the first light breaks over the horizon. By the time she's bundled up for the morning chill and ready to go, it's just light enough to see our way to the Jeep. At our usual trail, the sun's just cresting the mountains, and a few minutes later it's up, lately a fat red sun, seen through a skin of wildfire smoke and haze. Squish points out all of the migrating birds. "Look, that one's completely lost." As we walk she tells me about what causes wind, or about how cats hunt effectively—she and Felicia, on the same trail, witnessed a cat track and then snatch up a mouse before trotting contentedly away—or about the level 125 gilded armor she's recently acquired in Minecraft Dungeons. We discuss books she's reading or faint memories she has of living in the house before our current home. Sometimes she carries a book along, and reads a little as we go. (Lately that's Rules for a Knight by Ethan Hawke, possibly because she recently saw Dead Poets Society for the first time. She likes the story of how, when she was three, we went to Powell's Books to see Hawke read from the book. She still can't quite believe the book is inscribed to her: To Squish.) I'm writing this at the dining table while Squish digs up a hoodie and warm socks; it's just forty-six degrees outside, after all. The sky is a deep, rough blue; a minute or two later it's faded denim. I asked recently what got Squish interested in these morning walks, and she said, "It's an adventure, waking up so early," and then we walked a few more steps, and then she added, "And I get to spend more time with you." I used to go for this walk alone, but it's much better with her company.
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