August arrived disguised as May, and we ventured on a short hike with some of kids and grandkids.
The children ranged in age from 10 to 1, the exact odds against them all enjoying the same activity.
But as we walked, one marveled at the shaft of sunlight piercing the canopy and spotlighting the path. Another exclaimed the beauty of the hills beyond the valley below.
There were questions about everything from bears to butterflies, while the little one was content to take in the brightness of a coneflower or trace the contours of a leaf.
After a steep descent, cries of delight greeted the sight of a small creek. With the first foot plunging into the water, they were under its spell.
We waded downstream a bit, the kids kicking, splashing and giggling. But they had no desire to go far, and soon they simply stopped to play.
There is something about rocks and water that endlessly fascinate children. Whether it is finding the perfect small stone to skip or tossing a big one into deeper water to watch the eruption, it is not something finished in one or 20 attempts.
You might find them just sitting in the water, watching it pass. The next minute, they’re on hands and knees, peering into it for a glimpse of some little critter.
It reminded me of the creek on our farm and its ties to so many childhood memories.
It was where we cooled off in the summer and skated without blades in the winter.
It is where we’d catch crawdads and tadpoles; where we’d sit and watch the aerial acrobatics of the dragonfly and the graceful glides of the water strider.
We’d sit in the water and wonder. Would it make it to the Missouri, or the Gulf of Mexico? Did mammoths and mastodons once drink from it? What would it be like in 100 or 1,000 years?
I’d go there when I was upset because it was a place of peace, always drawing me out of myself into a much bigger world.
As we herded the kids back up the trail, these memories left a wake of sadness — not nostalgia for a life long passed, but because it is so rare today.
I want for my grandchildren what I had in that creek. I want places that invite them in, relieve them of their daily cares, shower them with God’s mystery, and make them feel they belong.