Leaving John behind with the younger kids, I rallied the four older kids into the van, and off we went. From the backseat, the inquisition began. "Where are we going?" "Are we there yet?" "What are we going to do?". Truth be told, I had no idea, and so I answered with confidence: "We're going on an adventure!"
"Are we going on an airplane?" asked one little boy. "I never rode on an airplane." Inspiration and desperation coursed through my veins simultaneously. Putting on my best "Pilot" voice, I instructed them in takeoff protocol, then gave them an "aerial" tour of the area. "To your right, you'll notice some trees, and coming up on your left is a beautiful pond. Check to be sure your seat belt is secure as we prepare for landing." From the seats behind me came the sound effects of engine noise and squealing breaks as we "landed" in the parking lot of the Hoxie house. The first piece of our adventure was to navigate down the steep, icy hill and around a fallen tree to get to the deck that overlooks Shawme Pond. On the deck, two of the kids put on a play for the rest of us. When it began to get cold, we decided to warm up by doing jumping jacks and stretches. We sat down and talked about how part of the water was frozen. We laid on our bellies and hung our heads over the edge of the deck to get a closer look at the ice. As the water moved below the ice, huge bubbles formed, expanded and then contracted. The kids giggled and were enchanted by the moving air. I was mesmerized by their laughter and by their delight in nature. Time froze, as fragile as the thin ice before us. Stage two of our journey took us down the street to the natural spring. We took turns getting drinks in silly ways. I leaned forward with my hands behind my back. One little girl danced in circles, taking sips of water every time she turned. My airplane guy jumped and dodged the running water as he drank from the lower spigot. We all got wet, and no one complained. We noticed a branch decorated with icicles. We observed how fast the water raced down stream. We tasted the minerals in the spring water and went back for more. We walked to the library, where we warmed up, put on a puppet show, and read a story. We walked back to the van, piled in and fastened our seat belts, ready for our trip back to "school" for lunch. We were hungry and tired, though sad to see our adventure come to an end.
I sometimes worry about our pace in this life. I'm amazed and concerned to see two year olds navigate Iphones, and grade school kids who can get around a laptop more readily than I can. I worry when I see people texting rather than carrying on conversations, trading frenzied waves instead of warm embraces. I wonder if we might be losing touch with the wonders all around us. I don't remember the last time I spent ten minutes watching bubbles under the ice, or had so much fun getting a drink of water. I'm grateful for the restlessness that inspired our adventure and am already fastening my seat belt, ready for the rest of the journey.