Another beautiful April afternoon today and just perfect for a walk along the Gory Brook trail in Rockefeller. When everyone arrived this afternoon I said to all the kids, “I’m going to give you guys a challenge today–let’s see who can stay out of the brook!” I said that to them because I honestly thought that they wouldn’t want to get into the water today. It was beautiful, but not super-warm, just perfectly springy. No one was wearing boots as it’s been dry and we weren’t really expecting mud. So I thought it was an attainable challenge. I was dead wrong.
I think it’s time to admit to myself that the bottom line is that the kids just can’t stay out of the water.Even in the dead of winter, they’re poking the toes of their boots into the wet spaces between the shoreline and the beginning of the ice. Or trying to poke through the ice to reach the water below. Water attracts kids. There’s no denying it.
We had a reasonably sized group today and headed down trail with kids picking buttercup bouquets and watching out for the newly sprouting poison ivy climbing the trees. Walking sticks were found, stones collected and tossed, logs balanced upon. But it was when we reached our favorite swaths of shore under the second stone bridge that the magic began.
In their defense I’ll say that most of the kids stayed out of the drink for a decent amount of time, though the ones that went directly in definitely lured the others. My hesitation lay only in anticipation of having to put three pairs of shoes and socks back on three soggy pairs of feet, but eventually I caved and in went my girls to join their pals.
The magical part was watching as their play emerged. The older kids worked diligently to pull a large branch along the shore, put it into the brook, watch it travel under the bridge, and then work as a team to retrieve it from the deeper part of the brook to start the cycle over again. They did this several times and it was great to see their various strategies develop as they figured out where and how to pull the branch from the brook and schlep it back to the other side of the bridge.
The younger ones took delight in balancing on rocks, collecting stones and sticks to toss into the water, and squish their toes into the cold spring mud. Others bushwhacked around in the woods or sat watching the peaceful water flowing while having a snack.
When it was time to go we hauled our pucker-toed children up the bank for shoes and socks. Only a couple of them emerged soaked up to their waists and had to hike back up with sweaters tied around their waists like sarongs. They were good sports about it, though.
The hike out is always longer than the hike in, but again, the kids remained cheerful even though it was the dinner hour. They had fun. They played hard, got wet and dirty, explored, challenged themselves and each other, took some risks, shared their snacks and made some friends. It was just as it should be. Let’s do it again soon.