Monday, July 07, 2008

Of Sprinklers and Cherries and Grand Adventures...
A Perfect Summer Day

Today is one of those summer days that just make you slow down and breathe deeply and relax. It is sunny and warm, but not too warm, with cotton ball clouds lazing across a flawless blue sky.

Elli has dried off and warmed up finally, after her raucous round of sprinkler springing--that is, placing a hose and oscillating sprinkler underneath the trampoline and then jumping with great shrieks and squeals of delight over and through the spray of water coming up under her feet. It was her own idea and a very good one at that.

As she sat out on the swing in the sunshine to warm herself, she and I noticed that the cherries on the pretty little tree have begun to redden up nicely. I picked one and took a cautious nibble. It was sweet! Oh, the rejoicing!

She ran some over to Daddy and Grandpa, who were hard at work on the house addition, and the whole lot of us began to thank God aloud for the lovely, sweet cherries. After all, cherries are a bonus, you know. They are one of God's many spectacular ways of quietly expressing His love toward us. I believe this to be true with all my heart. Cherries should be rejoiced over.

I carried a ladder over to the garden and carefully placed its legs between plants. Elli climbed up and began to pick and eat, and pick and eat. Then she ran in the house for a bowl to collect them in and some baggies in which to deliver bunches of cherries to the neighbor ladies. Each delivery would also include copies of this photo, at right, at Elli's request.

Meanwhile, the boys (Tano and his friend, Jade) are off on a grand adventure--perhaps their most significant one to date. Tano will be going on a four-day backpacking trip with quite a few other kids his age at the end of the month, so he decided he should go on several training hikes between now and then to build up his endurance. Today he called up Jade and invited him to go hiking with him at the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge, just a short drive from home.

The boys loaded some weights and a sack lunch into their packs and I drove them to the visitor's center at one end of the refuge. Their mission is to hike the entire length of the refuge and out the other side, then continue another half mile or so into downtown Stevensville to Mary's Place--a tiny little restaurant on Main Street. I equipped them with a cell phone for emergencies and for calling me when they reach their destination, as well as seventy-five cents each for an ice cream cone there. All told, it will be about a five mile walk. They were very excited at the prospect.

Before I dropped them off, we discussed the dangerous potential for two very smart boys to combine into one big pile of stupid, making poor choices and taking unneccessary dangerous risks. They assured me that they would, instead, combine forces to create a very smart team. We discussed road safety and the fact that the cell phone is not for frivolous use. We discussed that this freedom comes with a great deal of responsibility and that we will use this hike as a measure of their abilities for possible hikes to come.

I am confident that they will do fine, and it would take a great deal of work for them to actually get lost, but still, the two eleven-year olds looked very small as they marched away from my truck with packs on their backs, off into the pristine, rugged beauty of the refuge. I wished for a camera to document this significant rite of passage, the backs of my son and his friend as they walked away from me.

I don't expect to hear from them for a few more hours yet, and it is slightly unsettling to have left them alone like that, but their young, wild hearts need great adventures like this to inspire them. Within only a few years, this little adventure of walking five miles carrying fifteen pounds on well-marked flat-land trails and roads to get an ice cream cone will seem tame and childish, I'm sure. I suppose I need to work up to the bigger things, just as they do.

Happy summer, everyone.

1 comment:

Dan said...

Hear, hear on the cherries! One of God's little gifts that give us a foreshadow of heaven, if you ask me. And good for you for sending your son and his friend out in the "wild." They indeed need that to become the men they will become, and I commend you for being the kind of mom who doesn't cower in fear!