Once there, the boys followed the trail down to the creek and got right to stone throwing. The Oldest One noticed that there was a thin layer of ice and made a game of setting flat rocks on the ice gently, then pushing them to slide them across and into the water. He also found a rock that he said looked like a fire's flame and another that reminded him of an apple slice. (They really did resemble those things!) Into the pocket they went to add to his collection. The Littlest One gave a few big rocks a toss to watch the splash, then convinced us all that it was time for lunch.
After eating our sandwiches, pretzels, and oranges under a pavilion, we decided to take another trail that lead the opposite direction. We walked along and the Littlest One found a tree trunk that had partially split, so that the majority of it laid across the ground at exactly the right height for him to sit and bounce on. "Look, I am on a teeter-totter!" The simplicity of the natural material and the complexity of his imagination was not lost on me.
|The Littlest One going under and over fallen log to forge a path.|
We meandered on down the path to where we had to cross some rocks in water to get down to where the creek was deeper. We then decided to take the small side path to wind our way back to the main trial, which caused us to have to cross another part of the creek, to walk along a fallen log balance-beam style, and to scramble up the side of the creek bank using exposed tree roots to pull us up. We worked as a team to help one another across, giving the boys to each take turns along the path to be the leader. Their sense of adventure, excitement, and pride in our ability to find our way back to the trail was contagious.
|Mama and her boys pausing on a large fallen log.|
|Rock throwing and name writing at the water's edge.|
|Daddy and his boys inside the 'cave'.|
A few moments later the Littlest One was getting tired. I told him that we were almost there and pointed through the trees to where we could see the pavilion where we had eaten lunch, right next to the parking lot. I told him that we would just walk up to that path that was veering off to the left and we would be there. He looked at the path ahead, then looked through the trees and pointed towards the pavilion. "I am going that way...I can do it myself." Now, with all of the bushwhacking we had already done and the fact the end was just an easy minute walk, I was feeling resistant to him wanting to forge his way through the thicket of vines and underbrush. Plus, his is the Littlest One...and I often think of him as that, rather than the emerging independent soon-to-be three-year-old that he is. I tried to convince him to come with us. "Look...the path is right there. We don't need to go through there...there are thorns that might get you." "That is okay. I can just pull them out of the way and walk through. Like this..." and before I could give my rebuttal he walked off the trail and into the open forest. As I watched him confidently pull hanging vines to the side and step through, I looked at my husband and smiled. "Okay...go ahead then." He reminded me determinedly, "I do it myself!" My husband shook his head and walked up the path to meet him at the other side. "We have a Robert Frost on our hands!" I exclaimed, "Although instead of the road not taken, he is choosing the path not yet taken."
I looked at my Oldest One and he said anxiously, "I want to go, too." And typically a more cautious child, he added, "But, I want you to come with me." I agreed to go with him if he lead the way. He followed behind the Littlest One who was busy pushing his way through the twigs and I could tell that he was getting a bit frustrated by the way that he was being lead. I encouraged my Oldest One to look around and choose his own way to go. "You don't have to follow right behind him. There might be a way to do it that is better for you." After looking around a bit and getting tangled up in some vines, he made his way to the other side of the woods and exclaimed, "I made it!!"
|The Path Not Yet Taken|