December 29, 2008
The world vanishes
A rush of warm air created a thick fog that rose up from the melting snow as I took the two little neighbor kids, who are four and eight, on a hike through the woods. They'd both been feeling sad, but soon they were stomping through puddles of slush and screaming with laughter. We walked farther and farther into the woods until we were surrounded by snow and ice and the dark shapes of trees.
"Do you know how to get back?" Little Biker Boy asked nervously. I pointed out landmarks to him to show him that I knew where we were. "That's the dancing tree. And see the orange ribbon there? I put that on the tree myself. That's the boundary line." Finally, I asked him to look down and figure out how he could find his way home. After a few minutes, he noticed our footprints, which made a path through the wet snow. He sighed with relief at this knowledge.
Ponytail clung to her new Christmas doll as she stomped happily into slush and scrambled onto fallen trees. Little Biker Boy kept asking me the names of trees, and after I pointed out the tracks of a white-tailed deer, he was eager to follow its trail. He agreed with me that the trunks of the beech trees look just like the legs of elephants.
Both kids were soon wet up to their knees. I took them to the spot I come to when I'm feeling sad: a fallen tree which makes a great place to sit. Wet snow came dripping down off the scotch pines, landing with little splashes. The kids sat on the log for a few minutes while I walked around and took some photos.
"It works!" Biker Boy said. "I don't feel as sad!" Ponytail said nothing, just hugged her doll tighter and took a bite from a handful of snow.
Walking back through the snow was more difficult and decidedly less peaceful. Ponytail, obedient to the rule of four-year-olds everywhere, decided she needed to be carried, even though she'd been full of energy the whole way out. Little Biker Boy waded too far into a puddle, and his boots filled with icy water, which caused him to wail in agony until I took off my boots and gave him my dry socks. By the time we emerged from the woods, I was as wet and cold as the two kids, and happy to return to the warmth of the house.
Posted by jo(e)