Maria and Mario and I have a new Sunday morning routine. I must say it is awesome. They stay in their nighties (I really wish I could) saunter into the double stroller, and we head down Grandview hill to Tim Horton’s for a breakfast of donuts and bagels (yes, it is more than this venture that is awesome even though donuts warrant my enthusiasm all the time!).
After throwing down way too many carbs and way too few nutrients (my cousin Amy would be repulsed!), the munchkins jump back in the stroller (and they do “jump” due to that sugar high) and we head down the street to a bike trail that is tucked away in an inconspicuous part of town – right up against the entrance to a highway and a construction area.
I had gotten off the highway a few weeks ago and saw a man running down the trail. I had no idea how far back it went or what is was like along the trail. But, it was something new and we are always up for that. Running and walking the same trails every weekend can get old. We started on the trail and within a minute saw a cat shoot across the trail ahead. I have to use anything I can some days to keep their interest going so the cat’s presence was perfect.
“Let’s see if we can find that kitten, you guys!”
“Go, mom, go!”
Within 500 feet, there was a rocky embankment leading down to the river. It was an oasis for Mario who could not believe the amount of rocks available to him to throw in the water. I promised we would stop on our way back and we continued on for about another half mile running in an enchanted forest along side giant, grandfather-like trees lining both sides of the trail, their leaves hanging above us shading us from the rising sun. A gem hidden against the highway. Eventually, we ran into a “KEEP OUT” sign and fence and had to turn around.
As I promised, we stopped at the river bank on the ride out. Maria found a beautiful slender rock for us to take home for our garden. She knows that I am infatuated with rocks so being the darling, generous girl she is, she finds the best for me. Mario, on the other, hand, had no desire to find rocks for mom – he was jazzed up with the thought of tossing the rocks into the water. What a beautiful sight to watch him on the bank, balancing on a jagged rock, right hand clenching a stone, releasing, hearing the “plop!” and witnessing the pure joy on his face of a job well done.
Meanwhile, Maria walked on down to the bottom of the embankment and propped her fine self on one of the big rocks that immersed half of itself in the water and half on the bank. She took off her shoes. She dipped one foot in the water – then two. I saw her from the corner of my eye and was tempted to tell her “no” because we are talking about the Olentangy River (not the most pristine of waterways) but decided that the experience was well worth the risk of her feet getting diseased. Maria has completely different expressions than her brother. I watched her put her feet in the water, run her hand along the river’s edge, access the rocks near her. She possesses a deep, rich look. Most girls her age would be splashing around, laughing, screaming “mom, look!” But Maria contemplates and weighs and muses. She is much better than her mother at doing that sort of thing. She has always had that quality since she was a baby (the “old soul” as my girlfriend called her after meeting her once) but she has probably nourished it since she has to deal with her wild, loud-mouthed brother for two and a half years.
We gathered a dozed small rocks and went on out way.
We saw our cat again on the way out and bid him goodbye. On the way out, we picked some wildflowers for the kitchen. Traveling up Grandview hill, we decided to visit our neighbor at the fire station (she is a dispatcher) and give her a wild flower to cheer her up. Maria chimed “I wish we had a red flower since she works at the fire station.” My girl.
We pulled up to our house, and unloaded our river treasure. Jon was waiting on the porch to hear the kids’ stories about everything they witnessed on our morning trip.