The park was noisy, large and loud. A trio of teenagers dropping f-bombs. A few smokers on an erratically windy day. Every child in a 3-mile radius climbing over the apparatus like a herd of ants collecting a morsel. Perhaps the whole structure would begin to move away when a few more kids joined the effort.
I wanted it to be fun and joyful and peaceful. I'm not even sure if Landon was enjoying it, although on principle he wandered around and tried not to get knocked over amid the horde.
"Let's go walk around the 'lake', buddy." (To be fair, I did not put air quotes around the word lake when talking to my 3-year-old. I only add them here to suggest that 'lake' may be a bit generous of a word for a man-made scoop in the soil in the middle of suburbia.)
At first, the option held little appeal to him. But we pulled away from the pack, and onto the sidewalk path that circumvents the water and began our new adventure.
Quieter. Landon talking to me. One hand clutching my finger as he balanced on a retaining wall. We stopped to talk to a gentler trio: a grandson, dad and son sitting patiently by their fishing poles.
Flowers to smell. Goslings to adore. Goose poop to be endlessly fascinated by: avoiding it, pointing it out, exclaiming over it, examing it, warning me against it...yeah, we're still in that poopy phase.
And it started to get fun and joyful and peaceful.
I had never really noted that one side of the path runs parallel to an urban stream. A wild little wonder that just so happened to have steep foot trails to its bank if you wanted to take the path less traveled by.
And Landon did.
In a classic knee-jerk reaction, I said no at first. I was still wearing my work clothes and shoes. The eroded path to the water was steep. I could picture harrowing run-ins with drug paraphanalia, broken liquor bottles and used prophylactics. (yeah, I've taken these paths before, little man; sometimes they are disappointing)
But if you could see the way he put his hands on this thighs to bend over to peer into the unknown, and then look back at me with such eager hope that, "Please we go there?!" you would know why I decided to stay alert for the biohazards of my worst-case-scenario thinking and follow him down.
I was ten thousand times rewarded for the decision by a little boy turned intrepid-explorer who had no end of delighted comments to make about these wonderful woods. The water, the cozy tree space, the magical forest, (yeah, he actually used the word magical), prevailing past where I could comfortably get my grown-up body: ("Crawl under, mom!") We found a circle of trees that had fourteen trees (I counted) sprouting from one small circle, that felt like a place you'd want to sit around and tell stories in. We found our favorite spots. ("The woods are lovely, dark and
We found the urban waterfall, cement lined and litter-strewn, but Landon's big take-away was, "It sounds like thunder, mom!"
I saw none of the unsavories I had feared, only the joy of seeing a little boy gravitate toward nature the way the moon pulls the tide: irresistable, mysterious forces creating life on the edges of the tumult.
We may not be a wildnerness-exploring, backcountry camping, cliche of Colorado-ness family, but the whole little outing reminded me:
We need to draw a little closer to creation.
I have promises to keep.
And miles to go before we sleep.