And these two bigger birds didn't foreclose the others, in particular, the little ones, which included the red-breasted nuthatches, American goldfinches with their distinctive per-chick-o-ree, Lincoln's sparrow's, and house finches with their warbled songs.
Mary Lou's hiking shoes crunched along the trail. As she hiked up the trail, her breathing deepened, especially as the grade increased. The effort worked loose kinks and stiffness two consecutive days in the office without any exercise had created. Given the fact that she was going to be able to get rid of her workload and didn't know anything about what the mystery case would require, she found her thinking about personal matters. She thought about Bob Orr. She wondered what his status was a family man. She wondered why he had invited her out to have a drink. She wondered about why she wondered about it.
The higher she climbed, the more out of breath she became. Soon she stopped to catch her breath, and looked back down below her into the valley. The sun was fully up now, illuminating the valley and the city below. Business went on as usual down there. Soon enough she would have to return and go to work. Fall days, however, were among her favorites of any time of year, and she liked to exploit them as much a she could. They were cool and refreshing, often more clear and crisp than any other during the year, like today was.
She started up the trail again, and, as she did, she thought about Lucia and her having been able to sit with Lucia for a few minutes last evening. Now she knew Lucia's mother, Isabel. They had met and exchanged greetings, even if their meeting and exchange of words had only been brief and to the point. Mary Lou had also been able to give Lucia the book that she had bought at the bookstore, Walk Two Moons, along with the word-search book.
Lucia seemed to have had such a twinkle in her eyes upon receiving the gifts from Mary Lou. On the other hand, it was difficult to read any twinkle in Isabel's eyes when Mary Lou had asked her about giving the items to her daughter. Mary Lou didn't know what to think about Isabel's reaction to her sitting there with her daughter there in the food court or about Mary Lou's gifts to Isabel's daughter.
On the lower part of the climb up the mountain, Gambel oak trees predominated. The trail often cut through a dense grove of them. This time of year the ground below them was littered with millions of oak leaves. As she passed through the last of them for a while, she stirred up a group of three deer: two does and a fawn. They frightened her, as well.
Mary Lou slowed her pace. She started thinking about the predicament Isabel and Lucia seemed to be in. Of course, she was assuming things she didn't know for sure: that there were in the United States without legal documentation, but they didn't seem to have anybody else to take care of or support them, that they were stuck in a situation that seemed like a dead end. Mary Lou wondered what would cause a mother to put their child --- any child, let alone a handicapped one --- in such a situation.