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In Our Own Backyard...Please pardon my wings

Silver glitter nail polish was probably overkill for Tuesday's meeting of the Carlton County Board, but I wore it anyway. Anyone who may have glanced my way likely wondered about this unaccustomed departure from my usually conservative reporter attire.

I'm absolutely certain, however, that no one there caught a glimpse of my wings....

I was just coming down off five wonderful days with two of my granddaughters, and I was reluctant to give up the last vestiges of the fairy picnic of the day before.

At the ages of 3 and 5, Madeline and Maia are the perfect age for make-believe. I've never quite grown up myself, so I was in my glory. Together we played horses, built forts, blew bubbles, picked dandelions, read unicorn stories, roasted marshmallows, ate Dreamsicles and yes - imagined we were fairies.

It wasn't all fantasy, however. When their older cousins, Ethan and Evie, ages 9 and 7, joined us over the weekend, we dug worms, went fishing, rode the ATV, hunted agates and played every variety of ball game possible.

I couldn't help but be amazed at the differences in their personalities and characteristics and realized what a unique individual each of them has already become, even at so tender an age.

Five-year-old Madeline, the dreamer, staged her own imaginary horse shows, often all by herself. She painstakingly created intricate mosaics out of tiny beads. She snuggled with whoever happened to be next to her on the couch, and she built sand castles by the hour. She begged to sleep all by herself in the loft at the uppermost peak of our house, accessibly only by ladder, and turned every night into a fantasy camping trip beneath the stars.

Evie, the tomboy, was always up for any type of competition, from baseball to cribbage (one day she scored a 24 on her first hand!). She was more at home in her Minnesota Wild jersey than a skirt. And though I got her to help make homemade pizzas one day, she insisted it was only because it seemed more like an art project than cooking. When she saw me reading the Sunday paper over breakfast, she challenged me boldly, "Grandma Wendy, how can you eat toast and read the paper at the same time?"

Ethan, the "age-9-going-on-19" adolescent, is caught in the crosshairs between little boy and young man. He adamantly refused to take part in the play the little girls were putting on, but he tenderly comforted 3-year-old Maia when she burst into tears. He fiercely argued his right to steal base in the baseball game, but wiped away his own tears at the tender ending of a horse story we watched on video. For the most part, he avoided being hugged by anyone, but he snuggled up with their 9-month-old pup like he was a stuffed toy.

And then, there's Maia. As the youngest of the group, one would think she would be the one with the most innocence and child-like naiveté. But as it turns out, she is the most opinionated, outgoing and outspoken of them all. She insisted on wearing her flower girl dress from a recent wedding much of the time she was at our house, indoors and out. She only agreed to wear pants once (and then, only under her dress), when we went out on the lake on a windy 45-degree day.

She squealed at the thought of touching a worm or a fish, but she made every effort possible to swoop up one of our two cats in her arms (despite a good deal of hissing on their part).

Maia is also a master of invention when she doesn't know something. When we were fishing one night, she started talking excitedly about the pan fish we had caught the year before. She said they had "mad eyes and angry teeth" and announced they were called "floppies." We patiently explained that we caught sunfish and crappies - which she pondered for a moment and then christened them "soppies."

Probably the most hilarious moment of the week, however, came when Evie asked Maia, "What's your favorite sport?" Maia thought for a moment and then replied, "Pink!"