The day outside has started off grey and chilly but that doesn't deter us because we love the extra intrigue that it adds to the air.
It is as though someone has added a filter to the sun, the greens of the garden, the pink of the spicy miniature roses on their bush stand out as if colored as an afterthought on a black and white painting.
We zip up our jackets and wear an extra shirt as well, then we run around the house looking for magnets, flashlights, and a camera. We also fill baggies with cereal to take along with us and dig out the stale bread from the bread cupboard to feed to the ducks.
We hop on our bikes, a bit awkward with our stash of stuff, yet eager as well. We peddle down the road, stopping occasionally to adjust things, and going slow because we keep letting go of the handle bars to grab a bag here or a flashlight there.
When we get to the river trail we park our bikes by the rusty metal bridge and put our stuff down while we lock them up.
First of all we decide to get rid of the stale bread by feeding the ducks. They know what we are there for so they all gather around us quacking, and a few geese nip at them and honk at us.
We can't break the bread up fast enough, the ducks are voracious eaters. They are so jumpy and noisy that it is amusing. I get mad because the little green headed mallard keeps pushing a little grey girl out of the way to get at the bread. So I devise a strategy to throw a piece out behind the girl and away from the boy.
This almost works but a large matronly female snatches it, defeated the little girl duck sits patiently while the others get there fill. So I hold off a minute until the others lose interest, then I carefully throw a bit out for the little grey.
We throw the bags away in the near by trash containers and head out to the park. Passing up the slides and the swings we slip quietly into the tangled trees and bushes. The light becomes even more filtered and interesting.
Here we find scattered leaves and tree branches. Intertwined vines, climbing overgrown trees. Tall grasses, weeds and a bit of junk here and there. We follow the foot path for a bit, then step into the overgrowth to pick our way through it, as if we were exploring some foreign jungle.
Occasionally we over turn matted piles of leaves and the essential oils of the earth rise up to hit our noses, we breath this in deeply.
Daniel heads off to the left, I call out to him "don't climb any tree's, cause' I don't want to go and get Dad if you get stuck." He calls back "don't worry, don't worry." In a sarcastic, teasing tone of voice.
Finding myself alone, I turn on the flashlight to help me pick my way through the tilting branches, grown over by morning glory and climbing ivy. I reach out to move a branch out of the way and push gently at first, but find that it is sturdier than I thought so I press against it firmly and it presses firmly back.
I am a bit unsteady as I carefully step over a log on the ground, and hold the tree limb back while I pass. The trees here grow in a circle, and I feel as though I have entered into the middle of a circle of female friends who have linked their arms together.
I sit down here, where the grass and moss combine and lean back on my hands, gazing at the criss cross pattern of tree limbs competing and climbing together towards the sun.
Here I curl up, to breath in the scent of the earth, the smell of new grass mixed with the scent of the old. I close my eyes for a while, dreaming my forest dreams, then hear the birds chasing each other off in the distance.
Their chattering disturbs my solitude so I open my eyes and stretch, yawning. Crouching I turn on my flashlight to discover what I can among the secret places.
Gaps between vines, spaces between the earth and fallen trees, under bushes, and out over the meadow grasses. I feel as though the hidden magical creatures are spying on me, just out of sight and that if I am fast enough I can catch them.
Alas I find sticks and twigs, rocks and dirt, and bits of garbage, which always makes me mad. I snatch a stray plastic bag off of the nearest branch and start picking up garbage furiously, miffed at other peoples thoughtlessness.
After a while I get tired of this and decide to go find my brother. I find him climbing, back and forth between the interspersed trees. He jumps from one tree, and clings to another, having a glorious time.
"Daniel, come on!! Get down!" He ignores me and climbs higher. "Well fine! I am going to go throw this garbage away then I'm going to go walk along the river to catch some water skeeters."
So I head off towards the clearing and I hear Daniel crashing around in the underbrush to catch up. I throw away the garbage, then run, zipping past Daniel on his way to catch me, off to the river.
There I slowly descend the bank, over the rocks and chunks of concrete that someone had decided to throw there. In the dappled light of the river, near the slow moving edges of the riverbank, we find the little skeeters skittering about on their four tiny legs.
Their feet make concentric circles, ever widening and interspersing together as they dash along. We decide to leave them alone today, because we didn't bring a container for them, though we contemplate our empty sandwich baggies for the job. Fortunately for the skeeters we can imagine them being squished in the baggies, so we don't use them and head back up the riverbank again.
The sun had come out so we headed down the asphalt trail by the river towards the underpasses, where the cars and then trains passed, the first underpass being for cars and the second for trains.
The sun soaked asphalt was starting to get hot, so we took off our jackets and swung them around as we walked. We passed up the first underpass for the alluring possibilities that awaited us under the train pass.
First of all it was cool to look up at the tracks from underneath, to see the rail ties all lined up like fence posts. Secondly when we hopped up on the cement barrier, which kept out the river on the other side, we could find black metal filings to play with.
We would take out our magnets and run them through the dirt picking up the filings. Then we gathered them up in our baggies to bring them home. Then we would sit on the cement, because nothing grew in the dirt under the bridge, and we put our feet up in front of us. Laying back to watch for trains, thrilling a little at the idea of a train passing right over us.
After a while, when no train came, we got up. Being chilled from the cool river breezes and dark underpass air, we put our jackets back on and emerged from our dark hideaway. We walked slowly back to where our bikes were parked, letting the sun soak into us, warming us again. Then we hopped on our bikes and slowly peddled home again, feeling free, unburdened from care.