The week is looking to be a hot one, and a quick glance at the triple digits had us out the door in a scurry this morning, in hopes of enjoying the wildlife refuge before the sun rose too high.
On the drive over we decided against all our usual haunts, and instead selected to explore a small canyon that has often been noticed by the boys from the backseat.
With school winding down rapidly (two more days and only a small smattering of work!), we’re functioning in a mostly-summer way. Late nights, lazy afternoons, spontaneous mornings. So it just fit the bill when at the bottom of the canyon we discovered a wading pool, crystal clear, hidden by high rock.
The kids were already dipping toes as I scanned for snakes, spiders, livestock. I have a constant sense of awareness out there, an awareness of the untamed world into which I’m pushing my children, “go, go!” The ancient crags and ancient beasts, the untouched prairie, they enfold me and I can just see Geronimo jump, see the calvary appear on the rise, see the natives rounding the buffalo who will fall to their demise.
“Go for it, swim! Strip down to your underwear and jump!”
My fourth born squealed, threw her head back into the pool, sat with water to her chin. I watched her, on the cusp of her third birthday, all blond hair and brown skin.
“Mama, why do you keep smiling?” my almost-five-year old asked, an hour in.
“Because you’re all just so happy!”
“We ARE happy!” the eldest cried, “I’m SO happy! This is the most fun I’ve ever had in my life!”
When in the end they swam only in their skin, giggling unceasingly at the unconventional hilarity of it all, I felt my spirit connect deeply with the spirit of the red-dirt land. We enter nature and touch stories, stories of an earth groaning, of a creation longing. We climb bluffs or walk shores and we are brushing shoulders with the ancients, treading where the sons of mortals have tread before. Our own story suddenly is swallowed up in a whole so much larger than ourselves, and at the same moment our own selves are found. By being where the sun beats down, the wind whips fierce, the trees shake hard, the cicadas hum loud, and the lizards and beetles duck safe, my own made-from-dust form and breathed-into-life spirit find their land legs and walk steadily on this earth once again.
The native tribes used to summer here, in these mountains, by these thunder-storm-formed pools and creeks. Perhaps in this very pool their children swam.