This morning when I left the house I had the twins with me as we were bringing, big brother, Sebastian to camp. Upon arriving at camp, still addressing the continual yells of, “My Camp!” from each of the twins, we parked the van to get out. The twins got out and walked the path with Sebastian and I. We were just walking over to sign him in for the day. Theodore held my hand in his right hand, and with his left hand he held Jacqueline’s hand, together this little chain walked. We got to the place where everyone was gathered, and Jacqueline, like she had been long-expected, casually waved and said “Hi” to a large group of people. I signed the book announcing Sebastian’s arrival and we were done, ready to leave. The twins stood on the edge of the concrete slab as if it were a barrier they weren’t allowed to cross, and said good-bye to their big brother who waved to them. Now his wave was disguised as another series of movements that wouldn’t blow his cover as the cool kid at camp, but I could make out the undercover wave.
Theodore and Jacqueline turned and walked away with me. Back along the same little path worn in to the dirt, but still holding a few blades of grass on either side. Theodore looked up at me and said, “different one”, as if this was another path, different from the one we walked on the way in. We made it back to the van and left the lot for our next adventure, returning a movie to a Redbox kiosk.
We drove for a little while and then pulled up to an outdoor kiosk so I could return the movie. I told the kids to watch daddy go put the movie into the machine. They were excited with this little task. As I walked the four or five feet to the kiosk, I heard Jacqueline yell, “Teddy!”. I am sure she wanted to make sure he was watching. I returned the movie and was back in the van in no time. Once I opened my door, Jacqueline raised her arms and signed the words all finished, while proclaiming aloud, “All done!”. That we were.
Instead of heading home we took a ride. We had plenty of milk and snacks for them. We somehow ended up on some back farm roads in beautiful Canterbury, NH. The twins and I were looking for trees, flags, birds, big trucks, school buses, and water as we drove along. The twins had movies playing in the portable DVD players we’ve installed in the van, but they were looking out the windows with me too.
As we changed direction and started for home, in a very roundabout sort of way (my favorite way to drive), we came to Sewalls Falls Road. We crossed the Merrimack River on the single lane bridge. We parked in the lot at the park on the river’s edge. Theodore had fallen asleep and was out cold. I took him out of his seat and noticed his diaper was soaked and needed to be changed. I laid him down in the back of the van so I could change him. Still out cold. I changed him while he slept. I took Jacqueline from her seat and held her hand while I picked up Theodore and started to walk. He slept, drooling on my shoulder while I held her hand and walked to the trail. The trail cut back underneath the bridge and straightened out for a while as it paralleled the river. I cut through the undergrowth on a little side path. I was now carrying a twin in each arm. A minute later we arrived at a sandy spot on the west side of the river. I put Jacqueline down, she was excited to see the water. I put Theodore down, he was still asleep. As his sandaled feet hit the sand he woke up, looked around, and sleepily said, “found it”. The last thing we had discussed before he drifted off to sleep in the van, was the idea of finding some water. He was right, we found it.
We walked north on the shore for a little while. We passed a woman and her dog. The shore line passage was narrow in the sense that trees and growth had pushed nearly to the water’s edge in some spots. Only hard packed clay and sand were between the low water level and the thick green growth. We walked until we came to rocks that force one to either take to the water or cut back into the growth and rejoin the trail. We stopped for several minutes there on the edge of the water amidst the rocks, just north of the dog playing in the water. The twins took turns throwing pebbles into the water while standing on a flat rock that sat roughly an inch below the water’s surface. That was all they needed. They were so excited, so happy to be “schwimming” as they refer to all outdoor water encounters. The little things to us, are larger than life to the kids.
I was reminded of the huge hill in the back yard that I sled down as a kid. Turns out it’s not that big of a hill, but the kids and their cousins now think it is. I was remembering the brook at my childhood home and the fear it struck in us as youngsters. Not that we were terribly afraid then, but we respected the swift flowing brook and wished not to ever fall in. Now I can leap over the brook in one jumping step. To the kids though, it’s an impressive body of water. And so was this single inch of water the twins stood in while marveling at the tiny splashes their pebbles made with each throw.
I announced to the twins that we would soon head back to the van as I could see the low clouds thickening and even some drops of rain making their rings on the water’s surface. Two Great Blue Heron’s battled for position on the distant shore, one squawking in a deeper tone than I had expected, at the other. A third heron took off, flying low and slow before rising quickly as not to crash into the steel bridge. The twins noticed. They looked up, and south, following the flight of this large bird. I reminded them about returning to the van at which time, Jacqueline held up two fingers and said, “two minutes”. You might guess that I have counted down, two minutes, a few times in the past. She says it almost every time I tell them/her they are going to be doing something else, like going to bed, or the like. So we waited two minutes, and more, before leaving for the trail.
The growth was particularly thick in this area. The sandy path was narrow, running through plants that wanted to grab hold and take a piece of anyone passing through. I picked up the kids, waded through the brush, and made my way on up where the trail featured more room among rocks and roots. We got back up to the main, wide trail, that was like a forest highway with countless exits in all directions. There were quite a few hardwood trees but still more evergreens. I put the twins down. We walked the trail hand in hand, in hand. We stopped to inspect ant hills. We listened to the now heavy showers hitting the leaves, branches, and needles overhead. The canopy was thick enough to keep us from getting wet. We noticed different contours, textures, and colors of tree bark. We jumped over monumental roots that had to be at least an inch or two in height across the trail. We made our way back, toward the bridge. The twins loved it. They could hear cars rattle across the old steel structure. I made them stop in the trail so we could look up and see the bridge and how big it was. This only made them more excited to walk under it. As we neared the end of trail the canopy opened and we felt the fullness of the showers. We decided to run, together, hand in hand, in hand. Both twins announced, “I’m runnin!”. Run we did.
We were back at the van very quickly. I opened the rear door so we could all stand there for a moment just inches from the rains reach. We found our seats and set off for home. As I drove the remaining distance home, the three of us talked. The twins devoured snacks and more milk. We talked about the rain, the river, the trees, the rocks, the “schwimming”, the dog, the birds, the bridge, and running to the van. We recalled the little adventure while it was still vivid in their minds. Before they realized it we were home. But to them that adventure ended only as we got out of the van. All we did was take Sebastian to camp and return a movie. Somehow that took four hours and included some new memories made. It was fun. They had fun. Oh, and as we left the river, once on the big trail, the twins said, “bye river, be back”. Yes, we will be back. Maybe another time when we run errands and then some.