Down To The River
I was in charge of four little girls yesterday and we all went down to the creek. The girls found two more friends from school already playing in their special hideout, so I left the kids to free-range while I sat nearby, but out of sight, by the water's edge.
From time to time the girls would appear. Once they brought long willow switches to "fish" in the creek; they'd run back to me to get drinks of water and fetch biscuits to bring back to their cubby; they'd come to report their injuries - a cut finger, a near-miss falling out of a tree. I could hear them playing, mostly peacefully.
For nearly two hours I sat and watched the creek. The air was full of thistledown, swirling like summer snowflakes. Cyclists whizzed by along the path at my back, dog walkers brought their pets to the water on the far side of the creek. The sun shone on the brown water and turned it the colour of milky tea. A family of nine ducklings and a mother duck bobbed and skittered downstream, followed a little later by the father duck, gliding just along the surface. Just before we went home, they returned, the ducklings scrabbling and waddling and hopping up the rocks to negotiate the little waterfall.
I remembered my long train trips to and from high school, when I would make myself really look at what I was seeing and describe it in my head, searching for exactly the right words.
I couldn't believe how quickly the time passed when I wasn't consciously trying to make it pass. The minutes and hours slipped by as effortlessly as the water of the creek. I listened to the breeze rustling the leaves and whispering in the grasses, and slowly the sun travelled across the sky, and then it was time to go home.
I wish you all a very Zen Christmas (if there is such a thing) and the happiest of New Years. See you in 2011.