- Trilliums, red and white
- Lots of birders
- And ticks, too
- Muddy car on the way home
The kiddos and I set out for a morning hike somewhere beautiful. And after cleaning out a drawer and finding a map of a neighboring county’s forest preserves, we’ve been going to different locations, all about 35 minutes or so away from home. They’re lovely spaces, well-tended and restored, free of the choking buckthorn and drifts of garbage found in some spots closer to home—although they’re so nice you sort of don’t want to be of the forest, just near the forest.
But we found ourselves in a forest our family has visited during holidays. I saw a picnic table where we had lunch just a few months ago. And felt a twinge because we’ll never do that again together. We’ll never be four around that table again. Our fourth flew away, to his own horizons and perches, without a look back at the three he left behind. But we didn’t shrink as he flew away. We are soaring, too.
I watched my little boy, my formerly timid one carefully climb a fallen log, up and up, carefully placing hands and knees. I could tell he was nervous, and so was I. But instead of yelling, “Be careful,” I sat back and watched him. Hair shining. Fixed gaze. Wanting so hard to be as bold as his brother, the wild thing further off in the forest, off on his own. He climbed and I watched. Both of us showed bravery, him in moving, me in not.
And I told them we’ll be back here again, throughout the year and at the holidays. We will be three, not four, and that’s okay. We are brave. We are strong. And we are free.