by Ralph Peck
It was decided yesterday evening, late, that the Grandson (Preston) who is 7 years old and as full of it as they come, would spend the night, and he and his Opa (yeah that’s my name) were to meet his parents at Rogers State University nature trail at 8:00 a.m and walk it, while his parents ran the trail.
7:30 came and you could feel the boy sleeping in till 10:30, but the next thing I knew he was up and moving around in small circles….his hair looking as though it had been curled up the side of his head and into the air, his eyes were twisty and full of sleep, and he just looked like a kid that should lie back down and sleep for a day and a half. He first had to have his three sugar-cookie-sampler-platter with a glass of milk. He had baked sugar cookies the night before, (well he had participated by oh like 50%), cause he was the one who rolled the dough and dropped it into the plate full of sugar and cinnamon, and then rolled (without getting any on the floor) the edges of the plate, getting the dough all brown and sugary, and then placed it on the cookie sheets for baking. His Grandma got 50 % of the credit because she read the recipe, mixed the dough up, put the pan in and out of the oven, and did the dishes.
For good measure, the stove received 25% credit because it did the baking.
He managed to get himself dressed, bathroomed, hair combed, teeth brushed and ready within about three minutes time, once the TV was turned off and the sense of urgency has been planted.
It rained all night, at least it seemed to, and the trees had given up leaves like a fall day, and the woods were wet, and it was kind of darkish out, for after a month of 100+ temperatures, this 77 degree day seemed perfect…even though the humidity was somewhere around 140% as opposed to 20% it had been for the hot period.
We walked (briskly mind you) down through the forest, where you could hear the birds cackling, and the limbs dripping water, and a few rumbles in the sky, along with a little bit of traffic noise off and in to the right of the path, but you couldn’t see any cars or a road, so it seemed far away. We walked, and walked and perspiration began in earnest , making my shirt nice and wet, and further down got all wet and yucky as well, clear down to the top of my socks. Preston and I met his mom and dad at the entrance, and all of us took off walking in the entrance road. They are on a schedule, where they will be able to take on the Tulsa Run later this year (My schedule is so I can live this year and the next, and the next, but that’s a story for another day..) so they walked with us in a brisk pace for five minutes, and their plan was to run the rest of the trip for 25 minutes. So halfway down the first hill, wrapped in the wet and dangling trees, they counted their time, and they were off…and we saw them for the last time on the trail.
The path took a turn around a clump of trees and we were at the Nature Center, a kind of classroom within the park, and as we approached it, I did a sudden stop and grabbed Preston’s shoulder…and we stopped and stared at nine deer, all across the path, eating off the ground. They had all stopped and stared at us, and we all stood there for three or four minutes just looking at each other, trying to figure out whose place this really was.
Slowly and gently, we made a right hand turn, down the road and back on the narrow path, down a little turn, and there was a large metal observatory platform, with about twenty steps to the top, and Preston insisted we make it up, so we walked to the top, looked around for, oh gosh 4 to 5 seconds, then back down to the path we went. We crossed a bridge over the wetlands (that are extremely dry this year), turned and started up (my shirt soaking wet by now) to the top and back toward the car. We had walked about 2 miles.
Then the neatest feeling came over me, call it a euphoria, call it a resonance of things long past, call it your heart melting into your wet socks, but out of nowhere, Preston was talking and quizzing me, when his right hand came up, took hold of my left hand, and the two of us walked this way almost to the end of the path. Now it was my point not to make a deal out of his hand holding mine, and in his mind (only guessing) he was holding my hand, but not even really thinking about why. This was the most fascinating point of morning, and the coolest to happen yet.
We walked on up, and out of the park, and his parents were waiting in the car, we all said our goodbyes, and off we drove. I wasn’t finished walking so I went to town, parked the car and walked two more miles. It was a really good morning.