Squealing in delight

January 12, 2013: 64 degrees

A park called out our name. We tend to defer to Darby Creek Metro Park so I wanted something different. None of the other metro parks had any special programs going on though and that was the extra push I needed to drive a bit farther. So we ended up at Park of the Roses.

The park is only about fifteen minutes away but I had only been there once with Ri and a girlfriend and her baby. Anything outside of walking or biking distance is typically a no-go for me. But it was such an abnormal day with 60 degree temperatures in mid-January that I figured it warranted an abnormal departure from all things Grandview.

We loved it.

We found a trail alongside a creek. Dogs splashed in the creek while their owners playfully threw sticks for them to fetch. Squirrels nestled in the low-lying branches nibbling on acorns. The water gurgled down a cascading waterfall. Yeah, just the scene I needed to rest after a crazy work week.

And then Maria accidentally hit the dog owner with a stick as she tried to throw it to the dog. Mario got wiped out by another dog too excited to see Mario in his way as he dove in the water looking like Super Dog minus the cape. A little chaos to mix into the serenity of the day.

But isn’t that how it always is with kids? How boring it would have been to walk the trail in solitude and listened to the birds sing their weekend melody. Come on, I need a little action interspersed through my walk.

And so, after the stick throwing and dog collision, the kids took off their shoes and waded in the cold, Winter aqua. They could not have been happier.




They were like the pups pouncing and splashing in the water. Tongues out. Smiles wide. They traversed the “waterfall” so excited to make it to the other side. They had spotted a Five Hour Energy bottle on the other side and were determined to get it for me (ever since I drank one months ago, they forever associate it with me and whenever I tell them I’m tired, I know just what they will look for). Maria grabbed it and it was empty. She looked dejected but Mario chimed in “at least you can look at it and just doing that should give you some energy.” My Little Buddha.

They found shiny rocks, “gold” rocks, pimpled rocks, baby rocks. They found slate similar to what they’ve seen at Peepaw’s and Mama Meg’s. They skipped flat rocks. Maria skipped one with Mario’s coaching (“Ri, watch me. I’m really good because Peepaw taught me when I was really tiny.”). It was glorious and messy and full of falling danger.

Then Mario took us up a hill for a “hard hike – one that typically only men can do.” After Ri and I gave him a piece of our minds about that comment and heard him say “girls can do anything boys can do” did we agree to the hike (I swear I should have listened to Marlo Thomas’ Free To Be You and Me more often when Mario was in womb; I listened to it incessantly with Ri). We slid and dug our nails into mud. We grabbed onto each other’s legs and pulled each other down into the wet earth. We clung to rope vines. It was an adventure and wonderful not to care about muddy clothes or wet shoes (I did make sure I wore old shoes due to my anal retentiveness about clean gym shoes).



With our feet soaked and our bodies layered in mud, we decided to head out and hit the Animal Shelter. The dogs and cats wouldn’t mind dirty kids. Mario asked Ri to hold him when I declined, and she exuberantly obliged.



Happy as bugs in a rug. These trips make me squeal with delight.

The River

 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!). 

Mario enjoying his Tim Horton's (picture by his sis)

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. 

Maria enjoying the water

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. 

My River Rats

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.