Almost every day we drive near Lake Los Carneros. We pass it on the way to preschool and back. On the way to Trader Joe’s. Really, any time we drive anywhere, we pass the lake. Despite being so close to us, the lake is not in our rotation of usual haunts, but in the spring it gets me. The meadows around the lake explode with fresh blooms. There’s practically a beacon of blooming yellow mustard calling me in. After days and days of driving by that gorgeousness, we had to go explore.
I was so excited about walking those dusty trails. The mustard was taller than London, bright yellow against springtime green. It really couldn’t have been more beautiful. I was thisclose to putting on a maxi dress, weaving us some flower crowns, and asking my kids to give me their best hipster child pouts.
I got one out of three. Any guesses?
How a child could throw a massive tantrum among the mustard is not something that I’ll ever understand, but it is something I’ve now seen. I can’t even remember what the drama was about, but it culminated in a beloved sand shovel being chucked into some bushes in anger.
Nope, that’s a lie. It didn’t culminate there. Our afternoon ended with me spending twenty minutes crawling through those bushes, trying to find this stupid plastic shovel, failing, and then carrying two crying children back to the van.
Blooming mustard, we need a do-over.
Fortunately, children bounce back quickly. About two weeks later, I had recovered and screwed up my courage again, so we took an afternoon ramble around the lake. We came with very low expectations and had the best adventure. As we passed The Bushes, Cruz pointed and announced somberly, “that’s where some animals stole my shovel.” Oh, is that what we’re calling it now?
There’s something I just love about a good afternoon ramble. Cruz and London took turns picking out which trail we took. We examined lizards lying on a bench. We stopped to watch hawks. London picked flowers and chatted to her cabbage patch doll while Cruz delightedly kicked up bigs clouds of dust. Give me those big Goodland skies and space for us to run and laugh and yell.
Sometimes Tovi asks me why I love the phrase “wild and free.” It’s for days like this. Days when I chose do-overs and mama bravery instead of “we’re never doing that again.” Because I don’t do do-overs very naturally and my tiny sidekicks keep teaching me to try. Because sometimes animals steal our shovels. Because picture perfect can’t hold a candle to real life. Because walking with my kids in God’s creation is a wild treasure and I never, ever want to forget it.