"You guys up for a hike tomorrow?"
We never know what a chance meeting with friends at the grocery store might yield. Spontaneity rules the moment, maps, a pamphlet consulted, and another adventure is underway.
"Let's invite the Hopper Family." I dial their phone number. "Hey! What are you doing?" Pete tells me they've just lit a fire in the fireplace. "How spontaneous are you feeling?" He asks why. "Wanna join us?" He asks when. "In an hour..." He tells me their in.
A short time later we're following the Kerner Family down this winding two-lane road.
And soon the children are exploring the creek, the hillsides, crossing over log "bridges."
Even the "big kids" are in on the adventure...
The beautiful thing about going on a walk through the forest with friends is that you can talk or simply walk along, lost in your own thoughts. Companions present to share the moment... with or without words.
There are six of the seven children in this picture...
"Israel, smile!" First she had to pause long enough for me to get a picture that wasn't blurry... It took three tries to get this shot. smile.
...or, blaze your own trail!
"Mom, look!" I turned to see my gorgeous daughter, covered in mud, lying in this muddy tractor bucket. ~sigh~ How I long to live so immersed in the moment that I'm oblivious to a little mud!
This natural rock overhang provided a peaceful spot for would-be picnickers.
...Or a cool spot for my 13-year old to climb to the top of!
"Wasserfälle (waterfall) this way!"
Nature's AWESOME obstacle course!!
Can you sense the peacefulness? (I wish you had come along.)
Victory stance atop the Wasserfälle.
We followed the creek up the canyon, at times resorting to the stairs, ladders, bridges, or stepping stones where we would have had to turn back or scaled a treacherous waterfall or hill to go on.
How I love to play in God's yard!
Curiosity and imagination reign supreme on these walks.
...Warriors? Explorers? I think both. (Zae and Eva...)
The adults opted to climb the ladder to the next part of the trail. The children climbed over the railing, opting for a more adventurous route.
Bridges on our journey.
Of course, the children thought this was pretty stinkin' cool. (Us adults did, too.)
"I spy with my little eye..." Can you find all seven children in this picture?
What is it? That draw, the inviting gesture of an open gate?
This fossilized mushroom... nature's curiousities.
Only 750 meters to the castle!
Ah! The castle ruins... and the savoury aromas from the restaurant! Mmmmm!
Kaffee, Tea, Glühwein, Apfelstrudel, Kindfleischsuppe...
Delicate Snowdrops growing in clusters across the lawn.
My eldest son holds one for the camera.
Adults converse... while children ask, "May I pet your dog?" The woman smiles, nods, says something in German and my children say, "Danke," as they kneel to scruffle her fur.
A little example for when you come to visit us here in Germany...
The children relax, carry on their childish banter about this and that, squint their eyes against the intense rays of sunshine. (Or, like Israel, why don't we all just zip our jackets over the tops of our heads?)
Suppe die Tag mit bröt (Soup of the day with bread). The appearance of what looks like "hot dog soup" provokes chuckles within our group. However, it tastes as delicious as its aroma! But I must say, Rob's meal looks best! Next time... we're ordering Hawaiischnitzel, Schnitzel mit gekochtem Schinken, Ananas und Käse überbacken, Rösti und Salat! mm, mm, mmm! And, next time we're ordering more than just pommes for the children. (You see, laziness kicks in and the decision that I'm not in the mood to persuade my children to eat whatever foreign fare is put in front of them. So, a bowl of french fries it is! And... they would tell me later that they were so hungry after that long hike that they would not have needed persuasion to eat... anything. So, now I'm thinking... If I make a new dish that might be a little more exotic than they're used to... perhaps I ought to take them on a very long walk before dinner...)
At last! Exploration of the castle ruins! ...Eli
...which includes scaling castle walls whenever possible... Isaiah...
My sweet, sweet girlfriends, Claudine and Lisa! And me. (Aunt Nancy, do you recognize this coat I'm wearing? Remember the coat that Brian found for you in one of the closets at Grandma's house? I still remember you saying, "You can have it when I'm through." It's my favorite!)
Israel and Zae...
My four awesome gurus of play!!
Of course, it's always fun to have an adoring group of fans!
Throughout the day, we watched the geese and cranes make their way home. An amazing sight -- such profound lessons on leadership, teamwork, and life wrapped up in these observations. My girlfriend wrote an insightful blog about these birds and our wonderings. If you have a few extra minutes, I suggest you warm up your coffee and hop on over to her blog for a visit: www.kernerfour.blogspot.com