Monday, May 17, 2010

Look, Listen and Don't Get Eaten by a Snake

A walk in the woods with grandchildren is a lesson in the senses. Shhhhhh. Listen. I’m talking in a quiet voice so I don’t disturb the sounds nature.

The skateboarder comes barreling down the path, his radio blaring.

“So what do you think of that?” I asked the girls.

“He can’t hear the sounds, Grammy,” Sydney replies.

“Listen to the sounds, Grammy. Hear them?” Gabby adds.

Yes, I could hear them. We didn’t need a computer, TV or one of the other ways that youth are entertained. Nope. We had the nature trail with its own music.

The Nature Centre is a place we like to hike. Well, we really don’t hike. We stop every few feet to check out something that has caught the eye of one of the three of us. Tree shapes are noticed. Toadstools grow in fascinating forms. A chipmunk romps beside us.

“Okay, this is something you knew last summer. What is that grey stuff growing on the tree limbs?”

“Moss,” guessed Syd.

“No, it is lichen,” I replied.

“Why don’t they call it grey moss?” she tossed back.

Always questions. Always debate. Always thinking.

“That would make more sense,” I replied.

We sat on a bench eating our snack. Cheetos and lemonade. I know. The snacks may not be healthy, but they are the bread crumbs leading to a walk through the trees. A baby squirrel looks down on the scene as we look back enjoying the antics. People pass by. They don’t realize that we are bonding. It’s hard to see from the outside.

Gabby looks over the side of the small footbridge. “Look! A snake.”

A tiny snake wriggles its way across the water. Gabby and I hang over the bridge watching. Sydney latches on to my arm. I should have realized at the time that this might be a sign. It became obvious when Gabby announced the next little snake sunning itself on a rock next to the path. Panic set in, and Sydney sobbing clung to me like a bat with its prey. We passed the snake quickly.

“It’s okay, Honey. Snakes eat mice and bugs. I don’t like them either, but they won’t hurt you.”

“I hate them! They scare me.”

Well, what can I say? I was the same exact way as a kid….er, adult. Only in the last few years had I permitted myself to overcome my fears and pet a snake at the science fair. I have lived to tell about it. No way I could convince Syd of that.

We didn’t see the owl that was sitting on a tree limb near the path on our last visit. Obviously, it had long ago flown away. We still looked. We didn’t see the deer that once stood back in the trees staring at us. We weren’t eaten by snakes or attached by rabid raccoons. We did make new memories and learned more about one another.

“I don’t want to go back there again, Gram,” Syd said.

“We’ll, give it, Honey. We’ll give time.”


  1. I just took a nature walk with my granddaughter on Saturday. We were on the edge of a lake that connects to a salt water bay. Our little treasures: a sea shell, a snail shell, and a tiny crab claw. But the time with her was the real treasure. It always fills me with such a sense of renewal to be outdoors with my grandchildren. It makes me happy.

  2. Susan, I truly think the best times with our grandchildren are when we are immersed in nature with no distractions. I hope we continue walking even as my grandchildren grow.