Llama T-Shirts


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Late in the summer, Kelly’s three sisters came to visit, bringing most of their children. Our eight-year-old nephew Reb spent hours catching Tumbleweed and walking him around. Reb would let Tumbleweed go, only to catch him again five minutes later. Tumble became much easier to catch.

One sultry afternoon we all went on a long hike. Our destination was the Magic Place below our cliffs. Kelly set off first, with Levi, Tumbleweed, and some of the crowd. I filled up the car with everybody else, to meet the hikers where our route would leave the paved road. I drove around a bend in the road, and there they were: half-a-dozen people in colorful summer shorts and tops, with two llamas in the midst of the group.

As we waited for the others to catch up with us, eleven-year-old Soral asked, “Rosana, can Levi count?”

“I don’t think so,” I answered. “Why?”

“When we went for a walk with him yesterday, I was way behind everybody, picking flowers. I went into the bushes to pick some more flowers, and nobody could see me. Levi stopped and wouldn’t go till I came back and he saw me. So I thought maybe he was counting everybody.”

“I don’t think he was counting,” I answered. “Maybe it was just a coincidence that he stopped right then. Levi can be balky sometimes.”

Kelly’s sister Alexandra was leading Levi, and she gave Soral his lead rope. We all hiked together, everyone taking turns with the llamas. Kelly and I didn’t let the llamas nibble much while hiking, as it slowed things down too much, but the others were more casual. The llamas were good judges of what they could get away with, and this time they got away with a lot.

We passed a cow pie in the road. Levi sniffed it and made a face.

We arrived at the Magic Place. A large pyramid-shaped boulder marked the entrance to a grove of maple trees. We tied the llamas to a tree, where they could nibble on the leaves, and we took our family into this favorite area of ours. Boulders had fallen off the cliffs over the centuries, and maples had grown tall around them. It was cool and mossy under the trees, with maple leaves blown into soft beds here and there. The entrances to homes of tiny animals were visible between groupings of rocks.

Kelly had found this place when he was hiking alone. He took refuge from a sudden rain, in a space under two boulders. There was even a ledge to sit on. It had the feeling of Mayan temples we had visited in Mexico and Guatemala.

Everyone explored for a while, and we spread out a picnic. It was dusk when we untied the llamas and slowly made our way back up the trail. When we reached the car, I had more volunteers for a ride. The hiking group continued ahead while we filled up the car.
When we drove past Kelly and Levi, Kelly called out for us to stop. “Levi keeps turning around and looking for you behind us,” he said. “Better let him see that it’s you in the car.”

I thought, “So Soral was right. Levi does keep track.” Once he had seen us, Levi followed Kelly home with no further fuss.

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