We've had a rough few months here in Central Oregon. We always say that we go straight from Winter to Summer, but this year was especially brutal. Our "Sprin-ter" kept the temperatures near 50 degrees well through May, and then summer arrived in full force. But, on May 20, we had one, glorious, Spring Day.
We were lucky enough to be spending that Friday with our play group out in the Metolious Preserve. My friend Sarah works for the Land Trust and was able to arrange an amazing morning for us to get out in the trees, along the creek, engrossed in nature, and simply absorbing the warmth of sunshine we'd been missing after a zillion months of winter. We caravanned out through Sisters (with a crucial stop for yummy scones and coffee), pulled into the preserve, and stepped into the quiet of towering trees. I took a huge breath and knew this day was going to be a success.
We started with a little hike. Big kids running and climbing over stumps, littles in backpacks, a couple dogs thrown in the mix. At one point, I had to laugh - here I am, walking through the forest with a baby on my back, holding a dog leash in one hand, small fingers in another... the kicker being that neither the child or the dog are mine! And that seems like a pretty perfect summary of what it means to be raising children in community, don't you think? What a blessing to have these sweet friends to just LIVE LIFE with.
The kids had bug nets and magnifying boxes to explore the creepers and crawlers. The littles had a footbridge that kept Josh and his buddies (Calvin and Jett) occupied while the older kids waded in the creek. We had a picnic lunch in the clearing. And then the clothes started coming off and we had 8-10 kids splashing through the snow-melt creek in only their underwear.
A short while later, after dragging my kids back to the car, I pulled onto the highway, grinning from ear to ear, buoyed by the shrieks of joy, inquisitive eyes, and skipping feet that had filled our morning. And then I heard another beautiful sound… two sighing snores from the backseat that continued all the way home. Bliss.