Sometimes it’s one of those days. The kind of day where everyone, especially Mama, wakes up cranky. It was crummy, rainy morning, and as we dragged ourselves about to get ready for the day, it occurred to me that I just wasn’t going to send E. to school this morning. Work has pretty much ground to a halt for me, with only one evening lab to teach tonight and then summer classes not starting up until July (and only one day a week at that), I’m pretty much a free agent.
So, in perhaps the meanest/coolest mom trick in the world, I still got E. and M. ready to go out the door, but on our way to school took a turn in the complete opposite direction of school and twenty minutes later found ourselves at my grandfather’s house.
Though the house often has my extended family coming and going (I mean, who doesn’t want to come play at a house in the middle of the woods and by a lake in Maine?), my grandfather is no longer here, leaving the house just a bit forlorn. It’s a strange feeling, especially since my parents, brother, and I lived here for a year when we first moved to Maine, and many of my summers before that were spent running wild in and outside of this home. I feel blessed that even though my grandfather, at 95, has moved on to a home where he is better cared for, we are still able to be here and enjoy the property that surrounds it.
I took the littles into the woods, and they quickly took to exploring. We haven’t been in the forest much here, since whenever we came to visit my grandfather before it was, of course, to see him, or to visit with other family who might be there. Of course, as a child, I had free reign of this land and had, at one point, the terrain memorized. It was wonderful to be back inside the thicket of trees and undergrowth and see this place anew through my children’s eyes.
One of the coolest bits about today were the turkey chicks. As we walked into the woods we scared a mother turkey and her small flock of chicks. Though I felt badly for scaring the poor mama and her babies (they scattered in all directions), it was really cool to see the chicks as I’ve never seen any before. There are LOTS of wild turkeys in our area, but this was my first time seeing them so small.
We left the woods for a few moments and walked up into the fields behind my grandfather’s house to let the mother turkey collect herself, and when we eventually returned all seemed well, though I though I could hear her making a ruckus some way off. E. and M. returned to their play and I settled myself on a nearby rock, but then our little bit of peace was disturbed by a rustle amongst the ferns and a perturbed little peep, all of which was shortly followed by a splash!
E. screamed that there was a chick in the stream! I rushed over and saw the poor little thing floundering in the water, unable to get it’s feet back beneath it. In a panic, I swooped the chick out of the water, clutching it as it beat its little wings. That was probably the most surprising thing about the little turkey – his wings were longer than he was and so well developed and beautifully feathered that I thought he’d take off right out of my hands. Despite the children’s squeals to hold him, I let him go (though I did let them get a good look first, but told them not to touch) and he quickly took off in the direction I last heard his mother call come from.
While I’ll admit to harboring some very fleeting dreams of taking home and raising a wild turkey, I am glad I was able to rerelease him back into the wild and hopefully to his mother. I do worry that even though I held him for perhaps no more than thirty seconds, and he was wet, that his mother will reject him due to having a bit of my scent on him. But such is nature, and he is better off in the woods behind my grandfather’s house than somewhere in my back yard.
After the turkey incident, we decided it was time to walk down to the lake. It’s a favorite walk of mine, with lots of hidden trails along the side of the road that all loop back to the old dirt road my grandfather lived on.
I hadn’t anticipated anyone wanting to swim today, since it was fairly cool and very rainy, but perhaps I should have, particularly considering who my son is almost certainly part fish. Into the water M. went, almost too quickly for me to stop him (almost…who am I to ruin a good time?).
These sorts of days, spontaneous ones where we find ourselves in slightly unexpected places, doing slightly unexpected things, are the life blood to this little family of mine. We were founded by the unexpected but joyfully loved. I’m also a firm believer that children, especially those stuck in the rut that is public schooling, have a particular need for these kinds of days. I always see a significant attitude change in E. once she’s been taken out of school and thrust into nature and spending time with her family. It’s wonderful to experience but also maddening to know that, due to lack of options, at some point I have to send her back. Someday, I hope we’ll find a way to make school, in whatever form it comes, work for us. In the mean time, there is Mama’s Forest School.