Being cooped up in the house is no fun. I’ve spent the summer inside recovering from knee replacement surgery. Except for doctor visits and a couple of necessary outings, the walls of my home have filled my summer days.
When my son called last week and asked if I was up to having the grandchildren and himself come for a visit, I was thrilled. They came on my dad’s 85th birthday.
My mom brought chicken and dumplings, corn on the cob, and birthday cake. I made carrots and mashed potatoes. It was a happy feast.
On Sunday morning, my son asked if I would be able to ride with him up to Kingdom Come. He knew the children were restless and I was exhausted from the efforts of the day before. Getting the children out of doors for a bit seemed like a good way to start the day. I had been nowhere for the sake of pleasure in 8 weeks.
On the drive there, an old song hit me from the years when I taught first grade, “The Bear Went over the Mountain.” The children picked up the tune easily enough. I had hopes that they might see a bear on Kingdom Come.
They had their own copies of one of my latest books, The Five Cubs of Kingdom Come, and knew that I had taken photos for the book and written the story about the state park where we were going.
The fog bank was still rolling in that early in the morning and the distant mountains were shrouded in white. The view from the overlooks was blotted out by the whiteness of fog. We watched it moving around us like a vapor.
The kids didn’t mind playing in the fog. It gave a sense of adventure to ordinary things. Alex shot his stomp rockets into the air and Maren shot her finger poppers in all directions, then ran to retrieve them.
We didn’t stay long because even the fun was still exhausting. I was disappointed that we had seen no wildlife – especially bears – for the grandchildren to remember. When we got back in the car and were at the bottom of the mountain, I saw something black moving through some high grass beside of the road.
“I think I just saw a couple of bears back there,” I told my son.
He turned around and found a side road. Sure enough, a mother bear and three cubs popped out in front of us. The mother was very small with a big white radio collar around her neck. Her cubs were big and appeared healthy. The crossed and went over the hill in front of us.
All the way back to Harlan we sang, “The Bear Went over the Mountain.” Everyone that Alex and Maren spoke to on the telephone that day got to hear about the bear adventure at Kingdom Come.
Having spent the summer in recuperation and seclusion, I was acutely aware of how much the little things in life really mean. I was so thankful they had made the long trip home from Indiana and were here for my dad’s birthday. I was thankful to be strong enough to help cook a meal, thankful that my mother and father are still alive and well to enjoy a family meal.
I was thankful for a loving son and his idea of driving me for my first outing to a place that I love so dearly. The drive, the fog, the bears, and the children singing were all such happy little things.
Reach Judith Victoria Hensley at [email protected] or on Facebook. Check out her blog: One Step Beyond the Door.