It was what her mother called a “blue wine” day. One where air and sky were one thing together and every breath intoxication. Brown leaves crackled with each step, the scent of them sharp as that of the pine needles higher up. They were climbing the mountain, guns in hand, and Brianna Fraser MacKenzie was one with the day.
Her father held back a hemlock branch for her and she ducked past to join him.
“[Gaelic for “sweet grass”],” he said, gesturing to the wide meadow that spread before them. “Recall any of the Gaidhlìg, do ye, lass?”
“You said something about the grass,” she said, scrabbling hastily through her mental closets. “But I don’t know [sweet].”
“Sweet Grass. It’s what we call this wee meadow. Good pasture, but too great a climb for most of the stock, and ye dinna want to leave them here for days untended, because o’ painters and bears.”
The whole of the meadow rippled, the ripened heads of millions of grass-stems in movement catching morning sun. Here and there, late butterflies cruised and at the far side of the grass, there was a sudden crash as some large ungulate vanished into the brush, leaving branches swaying in its wake.
“A certain amount of competition as well, I see,” she said, nodding toward the place where the animal had disappeared. She lifted an eyebrow, wanting to ask whether they should not pursue it, but assuming that her father had some good reason why not, since he made no move.
“Aye, some,” he said, and turned to the right, moving along the edge of the trees that rimmed the meadow. “But deer dinna feed the same way cattle or sheep do, at least not if the pasture’s good. That was an old buck,” he added off-handedly over his shoulder. “We dinna want to kill those in autumn, save for need; the meat’s not good so close to rut, and game’s not scarce.”
She raised both brows, but followed without comment. He turned his head and smiled at her.
“Where there’s one, there are likely more, this time o’ year. The does begin to gather into wee herds. It’s no quite rut yet, but the bucks are thinkin’ on it. He kens well enough where they are.” He nodded in the direction of the vanished deer. “We’ll follow him.”
She suppressed a smile, recalling some of her mother’s uncensored opinions on men and the functions of testosterone. He saw it, though, and gave her a half-rueful look of amusement, knowing what she was thinking, and the fact that he did sent a small sweet pang through her heart.
“Aye, well, your mother’s right about men,” he said with a shrug. “Keep it in mind, a nighean,” he added, more seriously. He turned then, lifting his face into the breeze. “They’re upwind of us, we won’t get near, save we climb up and come down on them from the far side.”
She nodded, and checked the priming on her gun. She was carrying the family fowling piece, while her father had his good rifle. She wouldn’t fire on any small game, though, while there was a chance of spooking deer nearby. She had so loved to hunt with him, before, and never thought such a day would come again.
It was a steep climb, and she found herself puffing, sweat starting to purl behind her ears in spite of the cool day. Her father climbed, as ever, like a mountain goat, without the slightest appearance of strain, but—to her chagrin—noticed her struggling and beckoned her aside, onto a small ledge.
“We’re in nay hurry, a nighean,” he said, smiling at her. “There’s water here.” He reached out, with an obvious tentativeness, and touched her flushed cheek, quickly taking back his hand.
“Sorry, lass,” he said, and smiled. “I’m no used yet to the notion that ye’re real.”
“I know what you mean,” she said softly, and swallowing, reached out and touched his face, warm and clean-shaven, slanted eyes deep blue as hers.
“Och,” he said under his breath, and gently brought her into his arms. She hugged him tight and they stood that way, not speaking, listening to the cry of ravens circling overhead and the trickling of water on rock.
Pretty good. Of course, this the “girls toy” (the boys get Justice League which last time I looked included Wonder Woman … anyways… see below) but this is a win in that there are actual action figures in this set. And they ARE NOT ALL WHITE CHARACTERS!
The figures are much bigger than I thought they would be and the Wonder Woman crown fits, somewhat, comfortably on my head.
A real win would be DC Superhero Girls being offered to all kids … oh well someday. Meanwhile, go grab some toys!
Here’s the Justice League set which is sadly not very diverse.