Seek the wisdom of the ages, but look at the world through the eyes of a child. – Ron Wild
This is what I did today. The local FTA chapter had a group hike today but I had other commitments and couldn’t make it. When I finally made it home I decided to take my son out for a short hike back at Willie Brown. As I said yesterday, simply taking the trail in reverse gave me a completely different picture. Today my son did it again.
If you haven’t been to the Willie Brown Trail, you leave the parking lot ready to start your adventure only to find a considerable walk standing between you and the actual trail system. It’s enough to make a 5-year-old wonder why you’re walking down this boring road. With the promise of something cool just around the next bend we continued on. We stopped briefly at the bridge over Hammock Creek. We didn’t stay long, though, as the water smelled like “poop”. Out of the mouths of babes.
We turned down the trail towards Willie’s old homestead and heard the loud calls of two large pileated woodpeckers. One flew off but we watched the other for several minutes as his bright red head moved around the tall pine. I prodded my son forward and we continued down towards the marsh.
He started playing a game where every root was an obstacle to overcome. He taught me how to properly step on the root (you must use your right foot) pushing off and landing on the other foot. If it’s a big root you can jump over it if you have the right technique. Needless to say I struggled with these challenges and he had to help me more than once so I’d learn but I eventually got the hang of it.
After all the times I’ve walked these trails I never paid such attention to the roots crossing my path. I’d watch long enough to make sure my step was going to be secure and I wouldn’t roll an ankle but that was about the extent of it. I never stopped to enjoy them. Who knew that hopping over some tree roots could provide so much happiness? More than once we hit a large bundle and we’d stop, unable to continue, until we finally figured out the right way to hop through the morass before us.
We finally made it to the observation tower and he loved looking out over the marsh. He pointed out an egret off in the distance and wondered where the other birds were (there’s a sign of what you might see). We had joined some others on the tower and unfortunately broke the quiet of the place as he hit me with a barrage of questions. At first I was a little embarrassed and was hoping we could be a little more quiet. It wasn’t until we went below to explore the oyster beds that I realized we hadn’t been an intrusion at all.
There was a man on the tower taking pictures. I hoped we weren’t disturbing him and as we walked down the steps he tried to guess my son’s age. He said he had a 17-year-old and I could see the look in his eyes. As the three of us walked below he told me that his daughter wouldn’t make trips out there with him any more and to enjoy these moments while I can. I realized then that when he was watching us he was thinking back to times spent with his own child. I think he enjoyed watching the innocence of youth again.
Once again, in all my trips I’d never bothered to walk the small area under the platform. I climb, look around, and leave. Today we went to the water’s edge and looked for fish. Not finding any my son made his own. He’d toss a loose oyster shell into the water and ask if I’d seen the fish. Of course I hadn’t so he’d make another splash. I realized then that what I saw as worthless oyster shells where huge fish to him. As we grow older we stop seeing the wonder of things around us. Instead of laying on our backs imagining what the clouds look like we ignore them as if they don’t exist.
We finished the hike taking much longer than I would have on my own. Daylight was waning and even as I was pushing us to get back to the truck he was still set on making every step an adventure. I hope that as I go out without him in the future I’ll carry that same enthusiasm and hope that you will too.