My quick response was: "Ohhhhhh, Elmo? He decided that he wanted to sleep out under the stars last night." (ending the statement with a smile on my face and excitement in my eyes, so that she wouldn't worry...in fact she might have drawn the conclusion that Elmo was having quite a marvelous adventure). I was going to make this right. I needed to find Elmo.
It had just been the day before that Astrid and Skagit and I had hiked Waterworks Hill. We don't frequently go over there, but, since we had to drop something downtown at Daddy's office, it made sense. I have always categorized Waterworks Hill as a 'wimpy hike', and by the standard of other hikes around town, it is. It is fairly level (comparatively), open, and the big aversion for me is that it seems to be teeming with people whenever we go.
We had such a wonderful time the morning we went, and I have to add it didn't seem wimpy either (with my 32 pound constant companion and DSLR on my back) ~ maybe, just too short. We had good conversation. Everything was perfect, except Elmo got dropped along the trail somewhere, and I didn't notice until we got back to the car. I figured I would just keep it quiet until I could check back at the trailhead that night after teaching a class downtown. Elmo wasn't there when I checked that night, so I quickly hatched a plan.
I didn't have Astrid with me the next morning when I set out to make the situation right. I was able to retrace our steps from the day before and remember our hike together. The soft wind that blew in carried with it Astrid's tiny voice asking me about absolutely everything along the way...
Equipped with my favorite coffee in town, Skagit and I trudged up the trail. Searching every cranny for that little red monster of yours.
He wasn't anywhere along the first part of the trail where I remember spotting him in your arms when I glanced back at you looking so sweet in your new glasses.
We looked up on the ridge. He hadn't crawled up there to be comforted by the lights of Missoula in the middle of the night.
He wasn't hiding in the birdhouses along the fence that we had stopped to take a closer look at. He wasn't in the grove of cottonwoods where we stopped in our tracks to watch atleast a dozen birds fluttering about, singing confidently.
I thought for sure we would see him on the last stretch where I picked two difrerent grasses for you to hold before reaching the top. Skagit said she caught his scent a few times..., but, upon further sniffing, he was gone.
...or at the spot you took a hard fall while your hands were still in your sweatshirt pockets. (Poor little darlin).
No one called us to tell us that they found him... At this point, I have to assume that some dog could be using him as a chew toy, so, I did what any good mother would do....
Best six bucks I ever spent...