I thought I was going to write about our trek on Black Friday through the Coppiced Woods Trail. It was my favorite hike so far at Beckley Creek Park and there were so many beautiful scenes: patches of snow on fallen tree trunks, icicles formed from the rambling creek, the path along the edge of the lake, the brown and yellow hues from the open woods and grasslands. Boy Wonder found a thousand things to touch and explore, and I found a thousand sights and noises that brought me peace and made me glad to be in the woods instead of a shopping mall. I was happy to pull Boy Wonder away from the thin sheet of ice he was planning on breaking with his foot, or to save the thin, wobbly tree from Boy Wonder’s shake.
“I have a hypothesis,” he said after I scolded him for yanking on the young tree. “Even if this tree had bigger roots it would still be shaky because, look! some of its roots are coming out from the side of the dirt.” He was probably right, and how could I be too mad anyway if he was going to use this as an opportunity to make a hypothesis? Boy Wonder was always considerate with his knowledge too, warning me when we first entered the woods, “If we find a poison dart frog- don’t touch it! It’s the most dangerous amphibian and it will kill you!” Boy was I glad to have him with me; Black Friday or not, I didn’t want to be killed by a poison frog any more than I wanted to be trampled in a crowd of people trying to get their hands on the latest electronic.
That hike was interesting enough, but then on Saturday I took Boy Wonder and his sidekick Mason to Pope Lick Park. It was double the curiosity and double the fun.
We started off on the playground but when Boy Wonder mentioned to Mason that we had seen deer in this park, Mason decided we needed to go on a deer hunt, for, he informed me, he had never seen a live deer before. So we started down the gravel path as Boy Wonder and Mason tiptoed and shushed me and each other, and Molly Bassett Hound if she was making too much noise with her step. They stopped every few yards and gathered grasses and weeds which I assumed they planned on using to lure the deer closer. They each found an appropriate walking stick as well, which came in handy later on when Mason slipped on some mud. “So is that what this stick is for?” he asked. “To stop you from falling?” Exactly.
We hadn’t gotten too far when Mason inquired, “So if we find a deer can we kill it and take it back home and cook it?” I said no. First of all, I really like deer and do not want to kill any, and second of all, how do you suppose we’d kill one when we don’t have a gun?
“We can just hit it with our sticks,” Mason said. Duh.
“No,” replied the older, wiser Boy Wonder. “You can only do that in Mind Craft.” Looks like the play dates with the boy across the street are paying off.
As Mason experienced his first hike and accumulated an increasingly thick pile of mud on his shoes and pants, we stopped and rested on nearby tree stumps ever so often, and Boy Wonder and Mason would proceed to start digging. Boy Wonder was first convinced that he spotted some real gold far down in the ground and he was only slightly disappointed when he came up with a tiny sea shell instead. By the time we neared the end of the Big Beech Woods, Boy Wonder had confiscated the possible fossil of a velociraptor, which he informed me, he would take to the Science Museum to confirm. Mason was satisfied with the smaller rocks he had gathered that contained the fossils of ancient sea shells.
On the walk down the Louisville Loop back towards the parking lot, Mason said he guessed we weren’t going to see any deer after all. I consoled both tired boys by promising a snack and chocolate milk when we left. And they took turns saying variations of the phrase, “Well, on the bright side, at least we get a snack.” I trudged ahead of Boy Wonder and Mason and as I rounded a curve and the soccer fields came into full view, I spotted a deer eating from the far field, close to the path where we began. It never fails, even when it seems the only consolation is a bag of chips and chocolate milk, always there is a deer sighting at Pope Lick Park. I motioned to Mason and Boy Wonder to hurry and join me; I was doing that half-shout, half-whisper thing, which really made no sense since neither the boys nor the deer could hear me.
They finally got the hint and rushed over to my side and I pointed out the large deer standing on the edge of the wood. Then we spotted another, and another. And just as if these deer were people that he had heard about but never encountered in real life, Mason pulled my arm, dragging me closer, saying “C’mon, let’s go meet them. Let’s go meet them.”
So on the bright side, Mason got to meet his deer after all; the bag of chips and chocolate milk were just icing on the cake.