Our house is a short walk away from Brandon Pond, surrounded by woods that teem with wildlife. We are frequent visitors, carrying a bag of bread ends for the ducks, keeping our eyes peeled for the beauty of the woods. Today marked our first trip in a few months, filling my heart with anticipation for lazy summer days with Eli and Lauren.
As we walked toward the pond, Lauren grabbed my hand, her little fingers encased in mine, while Eli ran ahead, chattering about the ducks. "Do you think they'll be back from Florida yet, Mom? Do you think they'll remember us?" As soon as we reached the edge of the woods, the kids skipped ahead, giggling and laughing together. Brother and sister together in the woods. Their joyous noise joined the chorus of wood sounds, the hush of the breeze through the newly budding leaves, the songbirds' melodies, the swish of grasses and trees. As we marched toward the pond, the puddles became larger and muddier. Like moths to a flame, Eli and Lauren stepped in each and every one. A bit tentatively at first, but their hesitation quickly wore off. I stepped back to observe the sheer joy on their faces. Then, I noticed Eli was wearing his good shoes. Now, I must confess, my son has only one or two pairs of shoes at any given time. His feet grow too fast for me to justify buying multiple pairs at once, and he refuses to wear anything but sneakers. I gasped audibly when he jumped right in, splashing mud everywhere, sinking ankle-deep in the brownish water. But, then I quickly looked at his face, and I knew the shoes were collateral damage. Pure glee.
The kids sidled up to the water's edge, beckoning to the flock of mallards across the water. Amidst flapping wings and water landings, my kids threw small pieces of bread, disturbing the tranquility of the water, ripples breaking the quiet surface. The ducks quacked contentedly and floated away as we used up our last crumb. We began walking around the pond, Eli excitedly pointing out bullfrogs sitting on the logs. "Mom, look! See those beady eyes!? Frogs, Mom!" Lauren clapped her hands each time she spotted one or heard one croak. She covered her mouth with delight, her eyes bright with wonder. Eli would suck in his breath at new discoveries: "An ant hill! Deer tracks! Turtles over there! Pricker bushes!" His wonderment was contagious. I was seeing Brandon Pond and all its treasures through the eyes of my children, basking in the warm sunlight, living in the moment.
We trekked on, sunlight sparkling off of the surface of the pond, glinting in every direction. We pushed through thickets of brush and traversed fallen logs. My kids forged ahead together on the path, Eli grasping his sister's hand when the path became rough, holding onto her tightly. "I got you, Lauren. I will keep you safe." Together, they splashed in mud puddles and laughed excitedly. They would glance back over their shoulders momentarily, making sure I was following. Watching the joy in their eyes at their discoveries, the love they shared as brother and sister, took my breath away.
As the clouds lazily danced across the sky, we circled the pond completely off the beaten path. Mud-streaked faces, wet shoes, giggles and grins, we had lost track of time, absorbed completely by nature, wrapped up in being with one another and living in the moment. Far off in the distance, the kids spotted my husband and sprinted toward the figure on the horizon. "Daddy, Daddy, guess what we did? We went on an ADVENTURE!"
An adventure indeed, my loves. And, tomorrow, we will go on another adventure--to the shoe store. What a small price to pay for seeing the world through their eyes and reminding me yet again of all that is good in the world.
**I couldn't write about Brandon Pond without including this shot of my babes this past summer at the pond's edge. My husband captured this moment unexpectedly on his iPhone. I love the pushed out hip of my son, their matching wader boots, and their clasped hands. This captures the essence of their relationship and the beauty in the simplicity of life.