A Child’s Wonder

We are on an adventure. Mom says our adventure today will take us to Lady Face Falls. We finally pull into a parking lot and I can see where we will start our journey. But first, sunscreen and bug spray. Mom pulls my tight curls into a pony tail and pulls it through a ball cap. We are ready. I take hold of mom’s hand and we walk side-by-side on the trail. It becomes too narrow to walk together, so I let go and run ahead. Mom calls after me, “Stay where I can see you, please!” We come across a huge meadow with gigantic mountains beyond it. I am surrounded by flowers of all colors; yellow, blue, purple, red, and white. I point to a flower that has red spiky petals and ask mom if she knows its name. She does not, so she pulls out her field guide. We like to know the names of plants. We look through the book together and there it is! It is called an Indian Paintbrush. I ask mom if I can pick it and put it in my hair. She says, “We are not the only ones who will think this flower is beautiful. Let’s leave it for other people to enjoy”. We continue walking through the meadow; the sun warms our skin and the dusty trail coats our shoes. We cross a boardwalk and I look for frogs in the small creeks, but I don’t find any.

We come to a cross-road. Mom says we will continue to the right and she opens a brown box with paper inside. I watch her write her name, where we are going, and the date. I ask her why we must fill that out and she says it’s so people know where we went if we get lost or hurt. She shuts the box again and I take off down the trail. Mom takes pictures of me playing in the meadow, the mountains looming behind me. I feel small when I look at them, but I wonder what it would be like at the top. If I were a bird, I could fly up there and watch all the people and animals below. I wonder if there are caves in the mountains with sleeping dragons. I catch up to mom, roaring the whole way. She laughs and asks me what I am doing. In my deepest voice I say, “I am the dragon that lives on that mountain! I am looking for food and you look like a tasty treat!” She laughs again and watches me zigzag up the hill as I flap my arms. We stop after a while and drink water. I close my eyes and listen to the forest around me. I hear birds chirping, but mostly it is quiet and peaceful. I take a deep breath and smell pine needles and soil. Mom says we are almost there and I feel excitement bubbling up inside me. Time to continue our adventure!

We hike up the rest of the hill and at the top we take a trail to the left. This trail is rocky, and I can hear running water. We must be close. My mom says I have to hold her hand now because she does not want me to fall. We get to the edge of a cliff and I look down at the river. It is a long way down and the water looks cold. She leads me along the edge and we climb down toward some large boulders in the river. She boosts me on top of the closest one and pulls herself up. We sit down, and she pulls out our lunch. As I eat my sandwich I look around at the river and rock around us. I think some of the boulders look like giant turtle shells. I tell mom I think I saw one of them move to the edge of the river to eat some grass. She says she saw it too and we both laugh at our silliness. We finish eating and mom packs everything up again. She tells me I can explore if I want but to be careful. I hop off the boulder and climb on rocks close to the edge of the river. I reach down into the water and am shocked by how cold it is. I decide to be extra careful because I think I’ll turn into an icicle if I fall in. I head back to the shore and use sticks and leaves to make little boats. I return to one of the rocks in the river and release my boats into the water. They float away from me quickly and soon I can’t see them anymore. I climb farther up the river, close to the cascades, and feel the mist on my face. I remember we were supposed to see Lady Face Falls today, so I make my way back to my mom and ask her about it. She smiles at me and says, “You were just standing right in front of Lady Face Falls a minute ago”. I must have looked confused because she tilted her head and asked if I liked it. I looked at the falls and back at her. After a moment of hesitation, I said, “I like the falls but I don’t see a Lady’s Face”.