Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Lost A Shoe But Found A Frog!

The end of summer is upon us and yet the temperatures still linger in the high 80's.  However, up north, we are not reaching these numbers until much later in the day.  So, we are enjoying much cooler weather for most of the day, which I truly enjoy.

Yesterday, we took advantage of the hotter afternoons and went swimming in the Great Missouri River.  We had a blast.  The water is low in an area near our home and it has created a little tributary with gently water flowing in that is perfect for little ones.  The kids were only knee deep in the warm water and had a wonderful time splashing around.  Of course, my children are of the adventurous breed and were not merely content with splashing around in the "kiddie pool".   Before long, they had spotted an island in the distance that we could wade to and explore.  The water was only about waste deep, but the water was moving more swiftly here and it had me a bit worried.  However, there mother, too, is adventurous and before long we were slowly making our way across the raging rapids (not really) to the island.  The kids were able to see the Missouri up close and were amazed at how wide and calm it was.  Of course, they got a firm talking to about how dangerous the water really was and to not be fooled by how slowly it appeared to be moving.  Then I proceeded to threaten them within inches of their lives about never getting in that part of the water or they would be swept away and would probably drown.   We then proceeded to explore and play and splash had a great time.  Well, there were several more forgings of our "raging" river and my son shouted out, "Mom, I lost my shoe!"  Sure enough, I looked and his croc was floating away.  I merely looked at him and calmly said  "Say goodbye."  I'm not sure which shocked him more, my response or watching his shoe disappear.  I explained why I couldn't retrieve his shoe and we moved on to play some more.

When it was time to leave, I told my son that he and I could walk down the bank for awhile and see if his shoe had come ashore at any point where the water was lazily meandering towards the lake.  This is where his true adventure began for the day.

Of course, the embankment offered many opportunities for him to wonder what was growing in the holes and hiding in the grass.  I tried to not think too much upon all the creepy crawlies that were watching us lumber by.  Earlier this spring and summer we had enough rain to cause flooding in many areas along the river, so we were able to see where the new water levels had eroded away parts of the land and how it created a shelf we could look under.  My son was fascinated and we walked further than I had ever intended.  Eventually we came upon a rabbit skeleton and he enjoyed looking at that.  Then we came upon the greatest thing ever, in his 9 year old brain.  FROGS!!  He didn't want to just look at one, he wanted to catch one.  The first frog eluded his attempts and eventually disappeared.  Gabe was crushed.  "Mom, I've never been able to catch one before.  Can we find another one?"  I told him we would try to find another one as we headed back towards the car where the rest of the family was waiting for us.  "Mom, it would would be so cool catch one.  I've never caught one before.  Can you find me another one?"  I couldn't help but chuckle with how he was inclined to tell me that he had never caught a frog before.  Like I wouldn't have remembered in all of his nine years that he had never seen a frog in the wild, let alone catch one.  I also felt the pressure of his faith in me to find him another frog to catch.  I didn't want to disappoint him, so I threw a prayer up to God, hoping he would catch it and then continued traipsing through the grass.  Of course, I know that we have the potential of uncovering something much more creepy than a frog.  Something long and slimy that makes my skin crawl, but I tried to not focus on this.

Sure enough, I put the fear of big foot into the heart of another frog and out he jumped...only to escape the grasp of Gabe's young and inexperienced hands and to disappear into the murk.  Gabe was learning and came much closer to catching this one.  Yet again, he is asking me to find him another frog and I keep walking through the grass on our journey back.  I threw up another prayer as my son lamented, again, never having caught a frog before and before long, out jumps another frog trying to avoid being stepped on.  Gabe and I scurried and dove and sure enough, Gabe caught himself a frog.  Then he dropped it and then he caught it again and we quickly headed back to the car so he could show his siblings.  We were both so proud of him being able to actually catch a frog.  Of course, with mom in the lead, what did we encounter?  A really big garter snake.  Thankfully, it was slithering as quickly as possible to get away from us.

When we finally made it back to the car and Gabe revealed his temporary treasure, his sister made the quip, "You lost your shoe, but found a frog," and I quietly thanked God for making this statement true.  This is a day that my son will never forget and will feel fondly towards even when he is a grown man.  God had heard my prayers and I have a suspicion that God would have continued to put frogs in Gabe's path even without my prayers.  I think that God had intended for this to be a special day for my son and had planned all along for Gabe to be able to experience "being a boy" in a new way.  There was a reason that I would let his squirmy sisters tag along and felt led to have it just be the two of us.  There was also a reason I volunteered looking for the shoe instead of asking his dad or giving in to being tired and hot and just heading home.  I knew we probably weren't going to find it, but I felt led to explore down river just the same.   I'm pretty sure his dad has never gone frog hunting before and I had just enough experience as a little girl hunting frogs that I could help him out.

We had such a wonderful afternoon hanging out on the edge the large Missouri River.  We have already agreed to do it again and more often next summer. 

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