Six boots were lined up by the back door encased in mud. Two pairs of snow boots were hung over the deck railing and four coats were being hosed off. Four children were in the bath tub, the water turning almost the same color as the puddles they had just been jumping in, and I grinned.
Before I had opened my eyes to the morning I knew it was raining; and I am not talking about a gentle British mist, but a deluge that ran down drainpipes forming bubbling pools of water. Santa had left us four emotionally charged children, and after carefully navigating ourselves through breakfast while watching Mother Nature cry down our window panes my sister’s eye met with mine as we came to the same conclusion, rain or no rain we were heading outside.
Boots were eased on, coats zipped and the door opened. We all inched forward, flinching as the first raindrops settled upon us. There was a silence as 8 booted feet took stock, contemplating the first puddle. A toe rippled the surface, and then another; one ripple led to another and soon all feet were stomping and running through every puddle to be found.
An ocean was discovered on a sea of moss, and holding hands they inched forward giggling when it gushed over the tops of their boots. On the return journey they ran and there was no stopping them – not that we really wanted to! A bike was found and ridden through, well; actually it had to be pushed because the wheels kept getting stuck and it was at this point they discovered the perfection of a spitting ark of muddy rain water showering them all, more giggling ensued.
All this merry laughter brought grandparents to the windows, and one could be seen convincing the other that kids being kids was way more fun outside than in, and worrying about holes in the lawn as the mud bath grew in size, quite impressively I might add, was not high on the list of priorities.
Onwards we went; all puddles receiving the same treatment. We found puddles in the cracked pavement, and puddles under trees. Fairy showers and bathtubs appeared in leaves, raindrops were tasted, hoods disregarded, and again grandparents’ listened to giggling girls.
Around the back of the woodshed, just behind the swings they found the ash pile.
It was stodgy and wet.
And when a stick pocked it, it sucked it in very satisfyingly manor.
Who could resist such a find? Boots squealed gleefully, they sunk, and stuck, and giggled, and squished and mixed up the mud, then, when they were done with jumping they sat in it. And it was sticky! When they were done with sitting in it and making snow angles in it and kneeling in it we headed up to the deck.
Thank goodness for both the privacy of the surrounding trees and the holding temperatures for all four children were carefully stripped off on the deck and carried gingerly through to Grandma and Grandpop’s big bath tub where they sat and soaked. I have to add that although all four children left looking distinctly cleaner that when they had gotten in, it would actually take at least one more bath to fade the reddish tints they had acquired to their skin! I would also like to add that the tub did not fear quite so well and had its own turn at being scrubbed that day.
In my minds eye I am left watching my sister prodigiously wield a hosepipe, disarming boots and jackets, I can still hear four children sincerely explaining to their Grandfather just why it had to be ‘that’ puddle, which now may take many, many years to fill in and moss back over, and I had not yet come to the realization that I would still be up at 11;00 that night moving loads from washer to the dryer having assumed incorrectly that red North Carolina mud would magically remove itself from clothing if asked nicely to do so!
Many gifts were given and received over this Christmas. All are loved and deeply appreciated, but what I fail to remember, time and time again, is that we are always surrounded by the gift of nature and sometimes in this busy world of ours we forget it and brush it aside. We always underrate its ability to sooth and reinvigorate, yet patiently it waits, and never fails to embrace us with forgiveness when we return.
And that, Grandpop, is why there is a really, really big, really, really muddy hole at the front of your house… just outside the kitchen window! Sorry! We love you, and thank you for letting us all play. xxxxxx