My uncle flew away but he left behind a bit of his wonderment. Ricky and I loaded our backpacks with food and water early this morning and headed for the creek. From the plane we saw the creek follow the low places between foothills until it disappeared at the base of the mountains east of town. The plan is to follow the paths along the creek until we reach that point. Ricky’s mom gave him her phone, just in case we get lost – I’m not sure that’s possible but there are other unknowns out there, I can’t tell you what they are.
“I love to go a wondering along the mountain track,” Ricky has decided a true hike requires music but he doesn’t know the whole song so he just sings that one bit over and over and over. Sally got tired of the music and ran on up ahead some time ago. She runs back to check on whether he’s still singing every five minutes or so, she just checked and he still is. I have my walking stick which identifies me as a hiker so there is no need for me to sing. I let Ricky take the lead and I fall back a bit in order to enjoy the quiet morning. The creek is running about half full leaving us plenty of room to walk along the bank. So far the trails that run on each side of the creek are well defined. I don’t know if they are kept that way by fishermen, kids, or animals but they provide an easy path around rocks and trees and tall grasses. Frogs jump into the water just ahead of us warned by Ricky’s song. I watch for snakes hoping they are driven away by his song too. A cottontail rabbit stops to watch us pass, waiting for us to leave the area so he can get a drink from the creek. All at once the music stops. Ricky stops walking. Sally doubles back to see what has happened and I almost walk into Ricky before I stop next to him.
“Time for a snack,” Ricky proclaims as he sits on the log that was his reason for picking this spot. He pulls the pack off his back and starts looking through it. I sit next to him on the log as he pulls out a sandwich size plastic bag of cookies. He hands me one of the homemade cookies.
“Thanks,” his mom makes the best cookies; they stay chewy instead of getting hard and crumbly like store bought cookies.
“We’re making good time,” Ricky says as he chews on a cookie of his own.
I think the time has come to get something said, “About the hiking song, Ricky,” I start.
“Oh, that’s over. Sorry if you’re going to miss it,” he says with a grin. “Getting a sore throat.”
“How much farther do you think?” I ask.
“Five miles,” Ricky answers between chews.
I hold my hand out for my second cookie, “How far have we come?” Ricky is petty good with distances.
“Two miles,” he answers with complete confidence that lets me know he hasn’t got a clue.