creek stomp

The gravel crunch over concrete welcomes us, 20 miles per hour down the path to the mill's pond. The creek runs fast from so much rain the past few days sweeping at speeds too fast for startled frogs over the tumbled rocks and branches. Ten or so kids ramble squeal scramble stomp and frolic up and down and under the bridge. Beware of the spiders under the bridge, building a mini damn farther down stream, crawdad catching is up stream and a lucky few travel against the current mimicking trout in search of frogs and aggressive catfish. Tall tales of coyotes and snapping turtles tumble helplessly out of the tiny dark haired boy's mouth. A collection of adorable mothers protectively encircle the buckets filled with creek dwelling creatures and chirp and coo over the toddlers who are dangerously too close to everything and are never scolded. There is a tiff between the damn builders and a collection of local girls, it seems the builders are acting tough, showing off, and it is met with spite. A few threats and gestures, a mother's intervention and things settle down. A few of the children are too fragile for this kind of play; creeks and currents and crayfish, rocks and tree roots, scraps, bruises, ego clashes don't sit well with them and they melt down... whimpering and panicking and scrambling for shore and mommy's arms... other's are too rambunctious they tromp too deep and splash a little too hard clashing hard with the tender ones. At the end of the day they are all wet and muddy, the creatures are within inches of death by the time they are freed and the children inches from total exhaustion, scraped and bruised, heads swimming with the mission of creature capture and exploration, child versus nature versus child versus mother... succumb to the dry warmth of back seats of cars and the rumble and crunch of gravel over concrete back up the path away from the pond.