Friday, July 10, 2015

Sweet Creek

We spent a lovely afternoon at one of my favorite nearby places, Sweet Creek Trail outside of Mapleton, Oregon. It's a magical spot, a wonderful, easy trail alongside a rambling, tumbling creek. There are deep pools for swimming, shallow areas for wading and splashing, and little waterfalls all along the way. We have hiked here ever since the kids were tiny, and it is still filled with wonder and discovery. Walk with me...

It's been unseasonably hot in Oregon this Spring, but we still spotted some wildflowers; columbine and bleeding hearts and foxglove, and more. We even found a few thimbleberries already ripe, my favorite berry of all, a tiny morsel of sweet, soft, melt-in-your-mouth goodness.

These two nearly melted my heart. Raphael stayed by Pearl's side, holding her hand, helping her down when she had to scramble over logs or rocks, pausing to show her little things and share his knowledge. "That log is rotting and giving its nutrients to the new trees!" The sweetest thing of all was when he asked if I noticed how he was walking on the side closest to the waterfall, "because that's what the boy does". When the path on his side was a little rocky and steep, he said, "Perla, aren't you glad you're not on this side?" It gave me great hope that there is indeed a little gentleman in the making there! (Sometimes I'm not quite sure!) 

I love these spiral-y ferns with black stems. I'm not sure what they are, but they're unusual and striking.

All along the trail  there are little pools and falls, making it a wonderfully fun place for children and adults alike. The kids had a great time climbing rocks, fording the creek, and exploring. We didn't even go up all the way to Sweet Creek Falls, but the trail itself is so spectacular that I (almost) don't mind!

The highlight of the day for the children was the discovery of a small pool full of newts! There were at least a dozen of them, and then they went around and found several more in other little pools nearby.

This was a stagnant little pool teeming with what I'm pretty certain were mosquito larvae. Ewww.

More newt love.

The older kids were allowed to cross this little ridge themselves, but we made Pearl hold a hand.

Raphael thought the strata in this rock looked like a pumpkin!

There are views like this all along the trail. Spending time in nature like this refreshes and nourishes my soul.

Snack time in the dappled sunlight.

I never tire of the brilliant green of the viney maple understory in the sunlight.

Another lovely vista.

The littlest hiker and her daddy.

Pearl is definitely a visual-spacial thinker, and when hiking will often stop to examine tree roots in the path and tell us what they are. This one was clearly a bird!

Inchworm! I kept saying to Erik, "This is such a wonderful way to spend an afternoon! This is such a great way for kids to pass the time! They will remember days like this." Their sense of wonder and excitement is sharp and pure. They could happily play in the newt pool for hours, or hop on rocks across the creek. They thrill at finding a flower, or a berry, or noticing how new trees are growing up on a nurse log beside the path. It always does my heart good to get out of the city and into the woods. I feel it is more important than ever to foster a connection with nature, to cultivate wonder and stillness and gratitude to the Creator of such a world! In a time when technology and busy-ness assault mindfulness and quiet, we thrive when we step away and immerse ourselves in the natural world. I'm so grateful to share the beauty and wonder of it with these precious children entrusted to my care.