It was one of those pre-fall days that glowed with sunlight and the first of the changing leaves just edging the swamp. The new fall tradition of exploding cattail fluff was observed with delighted shrieks as they chased each other with the cattail “wands,” trailing the millions(?) of tiny seeds that drifted and blew every which way.
Several of the kids brought me fallen leaves and I commented that they were the colors of a sunset. After that, every leaf offered was referred to as, “a sunset leaf.”
The climbers went for the tilted tree while below them the cattail battles ensued. Once our last two explorers arrived, most of us headed for The Secret Fort Tree to gather up and munch on some more wild apples. I do not say aloud that this lovely tree may not live long, choked as it is by wild grapevine. The giant, gnarled, old grapevine makes for some of the best climbing, so it is hard to resent its intrusion.
After a while we vote to hike to the Enchanted Forest where a few go off exploring and the rest of us allow our imaginations to expand into playing everything from princesses to pirates, queens and outlaws. These titles are interchangeable and overlap, resulting in several pirate princesses and other characters who have random accents. I am moved to join in the silliness this day, and I am suddenly in touch with my child-self, unselfconsciously joining the pretend play as I find a throne and then assign it to D. who takes it over with a happily wicked laugh. I cross the moat to where two pirate princesses hold court and we call back and forth to each other in the voices of our imaginary selves. I am somewhat stunned by my own ability to suddenly become part of all of this again. It has been years since my imagination brought me here and I grant myself full immersion, letting go entirely of my daily adult cares and anxieties. With these laughing, splashing, daring children who do not judge me, but who delightedly accept my own voice and role play, I am briefly one of them once again.