Thursday, June 16, 2016

the creek

There's a special place in town the kids call a magic kingdom. It's long and flowy, and there are lots of places that are special for different reasons: there's the spot across from the original school where Kai would take the kids for tromps and tree climbs and labyrinth design; there's this small divot of a spot where we would take our dogs when they were just pups and now take our children to splash and splash and toss sticks; and in winter, there's a trail we'll go down that is surrounded by hills and has lots of great logs to balance on.

Today, we were introduced to a new sweet spot by some of our favorite people to go on play dates with: Eydis on the right, who was in the Children's House with my two littles, and Nicolai, who is actually one of my own students as well as a friend of my kids:

This is another branch of the paths surrounding Hay Creek here in town, perfect for wildflower picking, lamb's ear stroking, and bug counting.

Maya: "Mama, why are the striders in that water there and those little flies in the water over there?"

Me: "Look at what the water is doing. See how one is still and the other is moving?"

See how still she is, watching:

She brought this bit of bark home. It's amazing how they collect things, refuse to relinquish, claim certain sticks as their own. Some things get forgotten, like the clover bud behind mama's ear, or the smoothly curved stick that snapped in half, and others get toted about like the treasures that they are.

And then the fantasies begin, the ones where (in the first picture) bridges are built or (as above) the beginnings of rafts are woven together and tales of Huckleberry Finn are quick on the tongue. Or their own adventures--we don't need sails because we'll let the current take us, and we'll go that way, and we don't need paddles, we'll just go and go....

The clover is out in full force, as are the asters and vetch.

One of the mamas we went with is a master at diverting energy. To shift around a kerfuffle, she gathered burdock leaves, turned them into umbrellas, into wings, into helicopter blades.

This is what I hope to get better at as I continue in this parenting and teaching journey: the patience to take that deep breath and hand over a new tool, a new object, and watch how it evolves. Introduce something constructive and of value.

The other mama, I must say, is also just as inventive--she had each of the sparring children take one side of the path and watch for elves (or was it gnomes? oh dear, my leaky memory!)--either way, creatures inspired by all of the Icelandic folklore I'm sure her daughter is steeped in, which makes me kind of want to slip in and listen to the stories too.

How many folkloric narratives can we give our children? Can we just tell stories all year long?

This particular area of the creek is good for all things, especially beyond the simple forest meandering: in the winter, you'll see many snowmobiles and cross country skiers, and in all weather, but especially the good, you'll see horses. The kids squeed in delight at this--two Tennessee walking horses, so impressively enormous, it might have taken two of me to reach the tips of their ears, and the well-meaning rider of a particular gelding named Shadow popped Maya atop his horse, but unfortunately had dropped the reins and the horse took a few bouncing steps backwards, which led to that brief moment of terror for this mama--but Maya stayed, no broken bones, and I know the man's partner had a few words to give him--she was incredibly cautious and leery of the kids, whereas I think he was thrilled to share this love with them. I get it. Both ways. He had good intentions, and I appreciate that generosity. 

There's an old-fashioned water pump up by the picnic pavilion, so the kids made an ocean and a river leading up to it. Maya made moss islands and squatted in the gravel while her brother filled and refilled his water bottle and came home long-soaked.

My Montessori training begins on Monday, and I'm both elated and a bit sad. I'm loving these play dates with fellow mamas at the school--my heart feels so good during and after.

It's nine weeks this summer (and more next and the more after that), and I feel so lucky to get to take this time--we have both grandmas coming in to help, and we've got a good community to fall back on, and the play dates for the kids can continue (I've been invited to pass along phone numbers to them for texted gatherings). I'm longing for two things--the companionship of these women and their children but also the time apart from my own four walls and two kids. I love them fiercely, but for over five years now, there haven't been a great number of disruptions to me being the lead parent, which isn't saying my husband isn't a formidable co-parent (he leads when we are together; he just has a full-time job and then some, and he's accommodated my attendance at writing retreats and writing conferences without complaint). Partly I'm writing this out of an acknowledgement of my need to relinquish, but also my desire to embrace some time where my focus is not half-elsewhere. It will still be with them, just perhaps not as substantial a percentage as I ease myself back into professional life.

Until then, I toast to Hay Creek with oranges and--is that a wren? Well, rich, verdant woods, at any rate, a toast!

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