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Don’t Miss the Chance

I almost didn’t go.  Daughter called and invited me to join her family at Cane Creek Park.  “Some of us are riding bikes on the dirt trail.  Want to come and stomp in the woods with the rest of us?”

             I answered, “Thanks. Not today.  I’ve got to go to the grocery store, cook, and write a column.” I hung up the phone and continued writing my grocery list, checking the refrigerator and pantry.  It was 10:30 a.m.  I didn’t need food on the table until supper time and writing could wait.  How could I pass up time with Daughter, Son 2, and five Grands?  And I knew part of the reason Daughter invited me is because she knows I need time outside, among trees.  I sent her a text:  I’m coming. Where can I meet you?

           Two Grands, ages 12 and 14, waved at me after I got out of my van. As we walked on the paved trail, they shoved and tripped each other.  They laughed; I grimaced. “Enough,” I said.  “Ah, Gran.  We’re just playing,” Samuel said.  I suggested they play like that when I wasn’t around.  He threw his arm around Elsie’s shoulders and they walked arm in arm beside me.  Elsie asked, “Gran, is this better?”  Much. 

          After the two youngest rode one time around the two-mile trail with their dad, they raced to the wooden vertical climbing structures. Eight-year old Lucy, quickly climbed high and stood twelve feet off the ground.  “Come on, Gran. You try,” she said.  I took her challenge, but stopped only a few feet high.  

          Youngest Grand’s short legs didn’t reach the first step so he unsuccessfully clawed and tried to get a foot hold. (Family rule: you can climb anything if you don’t need help getting up or getting down.)  “Gran, let’s throw rocks in the water!” Micah shouted.  There’s something calming about watching concentric rings on the water’s surface.

         All Daughter’s family except Annabel, age 10, were ready to go home, and she agreed to walk around the lake with me.  We gathered fruits from sweet gum and sycamore trees.  We searched for sweet gum balls that had really sharp points that felt like needles. We rubbed cedar tree twigs between our finger to smell a real Christmas tree, the kind my dad cut for our house every December.

        As we walked, Annabel and I held hands. “I’m going to close my eyes.  Don’t make me fall,” she said.  I said that I’d keep her safe.  I led her diagonally across the four-foot wide path.  “Don’t go crooked,” she said.

      “Trust me, Annabel,” I told her.  She giggled.  I stopped and led her around me.  “What if I get dizzy and fall,” my Grand said.  I reminded her to trust me.  We zigzagged and walked off the path.  “Why should I trust you?” she asked, her eyes still closed.

        “Because I said I’d keep you safe and because I love you,” I told her.         To think I almost didn’t go.

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