April 22, 2014
Today is just what I needed. A day out in God’s glorious creation. A day where I could hear the gentle breeze roll across the expansive fields of tall, blooming grasses. A day of examining flowers of all kinds of delightful types. A day where I arrive home with my fingertips smelling like the sweet scent of nature. A day where we got to see a big, bushy tail flicking back and forth, catching our attention. This tail was much bigger than a squirrel’s bushy tail. What could it be?! As we tiptoed closer we were sooooooo surprised to find that it was a skunk! Yes a skunk! There it was foraging in the grasses. I always thought skunks had one big bold white strip down their back. No, in fact it has one big white stripe that bifurcates and then rejoins at the tail, with a black patch of fur on the very top of its back. What a beautiful sight!
Hills and hills of green. Oh the beauty of it. The panoramic beauty of it was so good for my soul. Beautiful tiny cluster balls of white wildflowers. Orange colored, silly-string style plant material draped all over bushes. No idea what that was. All natural, a bit moist, smelling a bit like pumpkin en masse over whole sections of plants. What could that be? No idea. But oh the laughter that ensued as I compared it to silly string and the kiddos decided to pick it up by the handfuls and throw it up in the air at each other, as though we were having a grand party celebrating the joys of childhood. The laughter, the smiles, the joy. Pure awesomeness for this mama’s heart. Jacob and his friend Noah tip-toeing up to Natalie and gingerly placing clumps of this orange ‘silly string’ nature stuff on the top of her pulled back ponytail bun. Success- it was light enough for her not to feel it. She kept hiking as they giggled walking behind her. The joy of teaming up on a girl and doing silly things together. Then they tried to see if they could successfully, discretely balance some on the top of her head as everyone continued hiking. I hiked behind them all, watching as the two boys scooped up more of this stuff from bushes alongside the trail, giving each other the oh-so-jokey-this-is-so-much-fun-I’m-going-to-burst-out-laughing-I-can’t-believe-she-hasn’t-noticed-and-we’re-getting-away-with-this kind of look that only older brothers can give as they quietly plan out a silly scheme with the communication of eyes and no utterances of their mouth. I was smiling from ear to ear. Ohhhhhh the joy in the boys’ eyes as they planned such silliness and relished in the fact that Natalie wasn’t taking notice. Pure, pure joy. Innocent child play. Awesomeness to watch. Oh and then the joy of all the laughter that broke out when Natalie discovered the mass of orange stuff in/on her hair. They had been found out! And oh how she laughed and oh how they laughed. It is moments like this that are worth their weight in gold. Hiking in the midst of God’s creation in the company of amazing friends is a slice of heaven here on earth.
We arrived to the Skink Vista Point and we all pondered why it was named that way. Have there been lots of skinks up here? Is a skink the same as a skunk? What is a skink? I love how many thoughtful questions can be asked and pondered on a hike. The kids sat and enjoyed the comforts of a wooden bench that had been built up there by an Eagle Scout back in 2011. We felt the movement of the clouds as they floated through the sky, sometimes covering up the sun and giving us cool shade and other times revealing the intense warm of the sun on our faces. Oh the appreciation of clouds as a gift of shade. And a reminder to me once more of how vast the sky and universe are. I am always humbled when I consider what small specks we are in this giant universe. Thank you Lord for today.
Thank you for the gift of friendship that I saw bloom beautifully today between my Natalie and the other Natalie of the group. Today was a day of them playing together, just the two of them. Everyone else in the homeschool group needed to stay home for various reasons. All of a sudden they introduced themselves to us as “Victoria and Brita”, their new names since it’s always confusing when others call out for “Natalie” and both of them turn their heads. They then began to act out the story of Anne of Green Gables, commenting on the delicate beauty and gorgeous colors of all that lay before their eyes. With Victoria/Natalie B. playing the role of Anne, and Brita/my Natalie W. playing the role of her best friend Diane. The one who was a bit more nervous and timid. It fit in perfectly with her role because that’s when my Natalie kept hearing the rattle of a snake in the grasses and was growing more and more anxious of a sudden attack by a snake. I assured her those were not snakes we were hearing and that we need not fear a snake jumping out of the grasses to attack us on the trail. I knew this all stemmed from her encounter a few years back with a snake that was coiled up and ready to attack on one of our family camping trips. That, unfortunately, has left her with a fear of snakes that I think will always be with her. I’m sure I too would have that same kind of fear if I had ever come within inches of a snake ready to strike me. Thankfully a grasshopper jumped out onto the trail and I was able to point him out. “See Natalie, this is what you keep hearing.” There he sat, super still, until I inched my finger closer and he went flying/jumping away back into the sea of grasses.
Brita and Victoria continued on their merry way…..talking about the beauty of the orange Mexican flannel flowers, the purplish flowers that looked like caterpillars or long earrings, the lovely lilac colored flowers, the brilliant orange California poppies….oh how sweet it was to see them enraptured in the world of imagination and creativity, traipsing together as two dear friends. Jacob held back with his good friend Noah and whittled sticks, talked about roller coasters and legos, with Noah stopping occasionally to eat an ant or two and Jacob ripping a fart here or there. Oh my word…..the differences of boys and girls is amazing. What a treat and gift and treasure it is to watch them both in their respective worlds of friendships.
I sit here at my desk stopping every now and then to take a new whiff of the scent of my fingertips. It’s probably silly- but I really don’t want to wash my hands just yet. I’m not ready to wash off the scents and sweet relaxation of today. I’m bringing a little bit of the great big nature world here into my home with that scent. My home that calls out to me to bring order to the mess. My sun-kissed cheeks still feel the delightful warmth of the sun. My legs feel how much we hiked. My boy is fast asleep on his bed- completely wiped out from today’s hike. Natalie is besides herself with excitement, I’m sure, at the continued delight of being in her friend’s company: having been invited to her very, very first play date at her house. Yesterday, my sweet girl sat at the baseball field for 3 hours watching Jacob’s game. She sat there finding ways to entertain herself in all that waiting. I knew it would be a treat beyond treats if I let her play at her friend’s house instead of going out to the baseball field for another three hours today. So happy for her!
Today has been a really great day. A blessed day.