Six years separate our grandsons, yet Tyler tries hard to keep abreast of Todd. With school, piano, Little League and other distractions, the three of us hadn't been together along the brook much of late. But now in midsummer most of that business has been put by, and Todd was free to join us on the familiar, ever-fresh route. Tyler was eager to show his big brother what he could do on his own -- as well as "follow the leader."
Reflections drifted contentedly through my mind as I recalled the pre-Tyler years when Todd and I discovered countless small miracles. Tasting ripe chokecherries, so swollen with juice they were puckerless in the mouth, for example. We paused again under the fruit-dripping tree to sample the current crop. It was Ty's turn to ask: "Can you eat 'em?" Even with our enthusiastic approval he still challenged: "You eat one, Todd." His brother and I laughed at our anything-but-gullible "little fellow."
Ultimately, however, he couldn't be bothered extracting such scant pulp as that encircling those big pits. Besides, there wasn't time -- not for all the wonders beckoning ahead. Bamboo waited our investigation -- immense stands of it -- laden with tiny, white flower racemes. It spread avidly, taking over much of the path on either side.
"Not the kind you see in rain forests," Todd pointed out. We agreed that, hollow and supple as it was, it would make a reliable fish pole. The stalks were thick and jointed in all the necessary stress points.
Tyler raced ahead, not interested in bamboo. The path was closed to traffic, perfect for children, being dead-end since the old trestle had been removed. Todd and I advanced more leisurely, keeping the "little fellow" in sight. We were alert for cocoons. Last year we'd been absolutely awed to observe the emergence of a cecropia moth from a brown mummy case that had wintered over in our dry well. "It helps to know the kind of trees they prefer," I reminded.
"I know," he said. "They like cherry and ash."
It was rewarding to realize he'd absorbed my earlier suggestion to memorize leaves and trunk, "so you'll know it in all seasons."
Ty was back, tugging at a head-high sapling. "Here's one, Gocky. It's got eggs on it." His unclouded sight and discerned not just a chokecherry tree, but a silver-black cluster of caterpillar eggs.
"You're right," I said. "The catbirds know this spot, too. Maybe their food supply shouldn't be disturbed." Solemnly he nodded and we went on.
We came, at length, to the spot where the trestle used to be. Large stones had been rearranged to bridge the shallow brook. Todd must at once cross over to get the "other side" perspective. His long strides, plus speed, got him safely over. Then Ty must demonstrate his fearlessness and follow. He looked at me for encouragement. I said nothing, just selected a nice flat rock on the bank and sat down to watch.
Tyler scrunched on hands and knees (it wasn't far down) and began to scramble accross. Midway some fleeting discernment caused him to change his mind, and he scuttled back like a crab. Ty always locates diamonds in the backyard, and again he decided that whatever might be over there on Todd's side mightn't be half as interesting as what was right under his nose. Drectly beneath him minnows darted in a small pool. He carefully righted himself and squatted on his private stone island. He reached for a waterlogged board, pulling it from the backwash. It became his "landing gear" for Star Wars, his stick shift and boat paddle in rapid imaginings. The minows scurried into shadows. He saw a strange creature when he plunged an arm after them.
"A lobster, Gocky, a lobster. Right here!"
"A crayfish," Todd minimized. "This isn't the ocean."
"It is, it is! Land, ho!m I'm on Plymouth Rock!" (He'd been Captain of the Mayflower at nursery school graduation.) "Would you like to come to 'merica? Right across this waterfell. Step carefully."
He paused to reflect. Then: "You're right, Todd. It's prob'ly a samalander."
A self-conscious grin beamed my way. "I can't say it. you know what I mean, Gocky."
Of course I knew. Lobsters and crayfish might be quite common, but samalanders and waterfells go together and belong almost exclusively in the world of Tyler