It’s an unseasonably warm september. I wrap the baby against my chest and carry her, my big kids go laughing ahead of us. There is a narrow path through wildflowers. The fragrance of yellow and purple fills the warm air, and I have to stop and fill my lungs with it. I could wait there with eyes closed forever.
My son picks up sticks along the path as it widens, revealing the lake that runs along our side. I caution them not to step too close to the edges, the drop into the water looks high. I’m careful not to warn them too much, letting them find their footing.
My oldest daughter finds the feather leaves of green ferns, the soft moss encroaching on large round rocks, and we discuss the meaning of a canopy of trees. Another daughter notices the way the trees form a natural tunnel, and how the sun is shaded off our faces. We are thankful for their shade.
Another voice pipes up behind me, wondering if we see a fox like we did years before. I don’t think she’s old enough to remember, but my stories have become her memories. I encourage her to keep her eyes on the woods, and let us know if she spies red fur.
We walk further, watching the small planes painted bright colors fly over our heads-so close. They roll down the hills, and I forget to care about them being dirty. I find a place to sit and nurse the baby, she’s wide eyed at the world around her, but she falls into my breast with satisfying hunger.
After we rest and play and watch, it is time to walk back. We find pine cones covered in white, sticky sap. Our hands smell like pine winter, and I realize how wonderful the real smell is. We talk about trees giving oxygen and sap and fruit.
We walk back down the natural tunnel, over the wide road, past the lake filled with lily pads, and back through the wildflowers. I stop again, close my eyes; and breathe.