The tiny crayfish slowly made its way over the rocky water bed, climbing in and out of crevices, antennae constantly moving. Perched on my haunches, trying valiantly not to move and startle the small creature, I watched in fascination. His translucent body moved with such tenacity over what must surely be a challenging terrain for him. The wind shifted, creating ripples in the water, and he was gone from my sight.
I lifted my head to listen. There it was again: a sudden, slight shift in the wind. Mother Nature was gently tugging me from my reverie and beckoning me homeward. I stood and shook the kinks out of my muscles, heeding her kind warning. Time to go home.
As I made my way through the tangle of trees, stepping over fallen branches, and being wary off uneven ground, I noticed the wind shift again. Her voice was more urgent now, a warning. I decided to stay off the beaten path, and stick to the cover of the trees. Noises ahead told me people were coming. Boys! As they approached, I noticed there were four or five of them, carrying something like sticks. No, not sticks, they were carrying snakes. And they were looking for someone. Me!
I ducked behind a bush and held my breath. Elbowing each other with bravado, the boys failed to see me crouched nearby. Birds and wildlife scurried out of their path, sensing as I did that they meant only harm. “She’s got to be here somewhere!” I heard one shout. “Probably by the creek.”
They stepped into the woods, and not trusting my luck, I made a dash for home.
“There she goes!”
I fled along the path, until I saw the opening to the farmer’s field that bordered my backyard. Breaking out of the woods, I caught sight of my best friend, Scott. He knew as soon as he spotted me that I was in trouble. Hailing his brothers, they met me just as my pursuers were catching up.
“You have a problem here?” Scott’s oldest brother stood, towering over the tallest of the boys.
“Uh no.” The boys turned on their heels and disappeared back into the woods.
“What were you doing in there all by yourself, young lady?” the older brother demanded to know.
I shrugged. How could I tell him I was never alone when Mother Nature was looking after me. I opened the gate and stepped back into the safety of my own backyard.
“Thank you for the warning,” I said to the Wind. The trees before me bowed gracefully at her command, and I knew my gratitude had been acknowledged.
At five years of age, it was easy to trust that life was guided by a loving presence, and I lived my life accordingly.
At fifty, I only wish I had such innocence to guide me once again.