“I’m going for a walk,” I told my three kids as I stepped out the backdoor. They were already outside in the sunshine.
“Can I go with you?” my son asked, bouncing a tennis ball off a racket.
His sisters soon followed on their bikes, but we had to turn back because they forgot their helmets. We went back again for sneakers, back again for their water bottles. Like Bilbo, I’d name this tale “There and Back Again,” only I didn’t think we’d make it past the driveway.
Fifteen minutes later we set out on our adventure. Of course, I still thought I was taking a simple walk. The kids had other plans.
“Mom, let’s take you to the woods!” I guess my daughter thought this was an opportunity not to be missed.
“Nyah, I’m good,” I said. “The road works for me.”
“Aw, come on.”
“Yeah, come on, Mom,” my son cajoled. “Remember when I took us through the woods last time? You liked that.”
“Oh, I remember. We ended up in Timbuktu. It’s a wonder we made it back to the house before dark.”
He laughed. “Yeah, good memories…”
Good memories. He couldn’t have said a better phrase. “Let’s do it,” I said. “Lead the way.”
We cut through a new subdivision and found a pebbly path.
“They’ve already set up the sewage system through here,” he informed me. Our tour included sighting the concrete pipes stationed along the way.
“Can we get back on the road now?” I asked, seeing asphalt ahead.
“Oh, no, Mom! We have to cut through here next.”
‘Here’ was a grassy trial. Did I spell it, ‘trial’? Yes, and that’s what I meant. We walked until the grass turned into ruts, the ruts into muck pits, and, finally, into mounds of soft, slippery sludge. I thanked my children profusely for this fine expedition.
“It’s really not that bad, Mom,” persuaded the younger twin. “Look, the ground is almost dry in some places.” She slipped. “Uh. Not there.”
My son wasn’t listening. “This is awful!” he cried. “Where are the trees? They’ve actually cut down all the woods!”
They had indeed. The view ahead was upturned dirt and roots. Wisps of smoke curled away from a black mountain of ash in the center of the wiped out acreage.
“How could they tear down all those trees?” whispered my second daughter.
“They are probably preparing to build more houses. Remember the sewage pipes?” I reminded her.
My son exhaled sadly. “There won’t be any woods left pretty soon. Last time I was here all I could see was trees and more trees.”
We made our way across a thin stream to a little area off the trail piled with broken computer monitors, a smashed wooden chair, a couple of beaten down plastic crates, and some other unrecognizables. I scanned the area for syringes—yes, I was freaked out.
“Be careful; there are pieces of glass,” my older daughter warned me, looking around.
I was happy to discover that the “glass” was actually pieces of dark plastic. And no syringes.
After giving them the talk entitled, “If You Ever See a Syringe/Needle on the Ground, Get Far, Far Away” that quickly morphed into “Drugs and Drug Addicts Revisited,” we headed home.
“That wasn’t too bad, was it Mom?” my son asked after chasing his sister down to get his tennis ball back.
“Not at all.” I grinned at him and something caught my eye.
“Excuse me,” I called to a man walking toward a dumpster. I ran up to him and asked for the nice box he was preparing to throw away.
“I’ve got more,” he said. “How many you want?”
We followed him back to a new house, where he was installing fixtures. My son helped him unload packing trash into the dumpster, and we trotted home with six new boxes.
“We lost the trees, but we have boxes, at least,” I told my son.
“I guess I can make more woods…on Minecraft.” He grinned at me slyly.