Grass rose, knee-high, ahead, golden in the sunshine and marking the end of the forest. The spring stream had not quite dissolved into nothingness; there was mud and soft ground between forest and field, sometimes hidden by the greenery growing so lushly there. Hope edged along the trees, in the shade, toward the road. It would have been a pleasant walk, on its own, without her dashed hopes about the flowers, without the worrisome smoke and its dangers. She half-noticed the plants growing in the mud.
Barking came from ahead. She blinked. She could not have named the golden retriever lopping toward her, but the freckle-faced boy behind was Joey Miller. The dog -- Guinea, if she remembered right -- did not pause before it reached her for a greeting, but the boy paused. "Morning, Miss Smithson," he said.
"Morning, Joey. Nice day for a walk."
He grinned. And then she noticed the flowers he was almost standing on. "And to get flowers for the garden."
"Those weeds?" he said, startled.
"Weeding, too!" She dropped her pack. He ran off with Guinea barking, and she started to sing under her breath as she dug up the flowers she had sought.