Down at the river

The bike trail led us to our rocky alcove along the Scioto River where we have planted ourselves on Sunday mornings for years. It provides a refuge from the traffic and the noise and the bustling of people grabbing coffees, grocery shopping or heading to church.

Ri and Mario transcended down the rocky bank towards the river staying alert for unique rocks. Mario threw a hefty stone in the water and watched the splash. He continued to find rocks progressively bigger in size to see how much bigger his splash would be. Maria hunted for rocks for us to take home for our garden.

I had considered trying out a new church today. I hunted for a few on the internet last night while the kids slept. I struggle with the feeling that we should have a gathering place on Sunday mornings where we worship beside others and sing songs and reflect. Jon and I have not put our energies in our local church for numerous reasons; the number one reason for me being that I feel like it’s hypocritical. I believe in women leaders, gay rights, womens’ choice and the church, at least at the highest ranks, does not. The non-denominational churches I found last night seemed promising but I still feel hesitant. And as I stood on the bank of the Scioto watching M&M, I couldn’t help but notice how joyful and soulful and grounded I felt being outside amongst the trees and water and birds.

When we walked together along the path and paused to watch a brown and yellow-spotted butterfly flutter around a bunch of flowers, I was grateful for the quiet moment with my munchos.

We came upon a part of the trail that had a clearing leading down to a wide patch of lily pads. When we passed the last large oak and the sky opened up, we saw all of the lilies spread along the river. A couple of ducks swam through them. The kids stared at the scene and Mario tried out his duck calling sounds (hilarious). Maria tried clapping to a beat to help Mario but still no ducks came our way.

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On our way back to our stroller, Maria spotted a buckeye on the ground. Then another. We were under a buckeye tree. Mario found a nut eventually and took much pride in splitting it in two. The buckeyes inside were so shiny. I hit a branch with a throng of nuts and it was like gold dropped from the heavens. The kids scurried around grabbing the nuts and piling them up. The nuts brought great joy especially when Mario packed them in his sweater pockets and acted like a pregnant woman.

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We laughed hysterically all the way back to the stroller as Mario kept “having babies” on the way back when the nuts fell out of his pockets. We dropped the nuts off at the stroller and headed down to throw more rocks in the river before riding home. Maria chimed “you need to take our river picture, mom!” We have a tradition of getting pictures at the river with each season. Fall is not technically here but it felt like it this morning at 50 degrees.

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We left the river two hours after arriving – a tad longer than we would have been at a church – and felt all the more rejuvenated and full of spirit as we eased into a Sunday afternoon.

Sunday stroller bliss

Since Maria wouldn’t come home on Saturday night with me (no hard feelings, really – I loved listening to my own music and having an hour and a half of alone time!), I got to take a run with Mario in the stroller on Sunday morning.

I was able to crank out about 4 miles before we headed to Tim Horton’s for Sunday morning donuts. And it was another stroller ride where Mario never asked for the iPad but instead talked with his mama the entire time. Beautiful. We played the animal guessing game for most of the trip. He always guesses pig, frog, and monkey when he is guessing my animal because they are my favorite. He’s getting better about asking actual questions to figure out the contemplated animal after he runs through “mama’s favorite list.” He asks if they live in a jungle or farm, if they have fur, if they are fast. His animals I have to guess about are typically from Wild Kratts and obscure as can be. The honey badger, blue morpho butterfly, scorpion…. He’s so proud when I need help in guessing it.

The Wild Kratts show is a nice little educational tool that Grandma Ionno found. Mario gives me more insight into the animal planet from watching that show than I could find on my own (did you know the orangutan has sore arms from swinging and picks off aloe from trees to massage into his arms? Brilliant (both Mario and the orangutan))!

When we arrive at Tim Horton’s we are greeted by a flock of geese protective of their little ones. Mario jumped out of the stroller and began following them. He knows the wrath of the mama goose if he gets too close so he kept far enough away not to receive her treatment.

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After the donut store we decided to head to the river to collect more rocks. The lack of rain created a rocky bank for Mario to step onto and the amount of mussels and clams amazed us. We could have been on Cape Cod (ok, I exaggerate a tad). We must have played on that bank for 45 minutes and it felt like 10. I love those times with Mario where we just chill – throwing rocks and staring at the water to wait to see a jumping fish. He does good for my need to be more calm.

On our way back to the stroller,a passing runner told us there was a turtle a few 100 feet back on the trail. We were all over it. We found “Cutie” (as Mario named it) off the trail soaked in mud. We caressed its shell but stayed away from its mouth to avoid a possible finger crunch.

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On the way off the trail, we picked a few wildflowers to take home for Maggie’s party. I put them in the seat next to Mario in the stroller and he kept getting irked by the flowers falling on him. I said “flowers, you better stop falling on Mario, do you hear me?!” Mario loved that exchange and began to play the role of the flowers saying “we won’t listen to you” so that I would “have a talk with the flowers” again. This exchange lasted the entire way home.