When my grandson was four
And often in my care,
One fine spring afternoon
We went to the nearby park
For play on the swings, the bars, the whirligig -
To enjoy the warm sunshine
And our own company.
He was gungho about his tricycle
And pedalled along the pavement
At risk to life and limb
Coming to an abrupt halt at the corners,
Respectful of 'rules'
Of Nana's slower footsteps
And her concern for his safety.
Inside the park he hopped off his bike
And leapt about gleefully on the grass
Like any young thing in delicious freedom.
He poked his head into the shrubbery
And then, his whole self was engulfed.
A moment later he stuck his head back out.
'What are you doing?' I asked.
'I'm looking for sticks!
There are lots in here.
Do you want to come in, too?'
'No, thanks. I'll wait here.
I'll watch your pile for you.'
And he scooted back into the bushes
Grinning with delight.
For almost an hour
He hunted, selected and sorted
Extending his range through the thick brush.
His pile got bigger and bigger
And more unwieldy by the minute.
Finally, he had enough.
He was satisfied, and he was tired.
He lay down on the grass by his bike
Quite out of puff
His eyes dancing.
'Time to go home.' he said.
'OK.' And I slipped on my shoes.
I stood up to depart, but he didn't move.
For a moment, I didn't 'get it'.
'Oh!' and I started to laugh.
'Are you taking these home with you?'
'And how are you planning to ride your bike
And carry the branches at the same time?'
He just looked at me.
So I gathered up his precious sticks
Wrapping my arms around them tightly
Not to lose a single one.
When we got home we made lemonade
And then, he disappeared into the garden -
To 'build a house.' A HOUSE! HIS OWN SPACE!
It was altogether a very interesting afternoon.
Cynthia Buell Thomas, May, 2019