First day of school had arrived for Stephen and Aurora. I put them on their bus and returned to my now quiet kitchen. My school starts a week later than theirs, so I had the day to myself. I made another cup of tea and packed trail snacks in preparation for my fifth back-to-school hike. Same as last year, my friend Miriam planned to joined me for this annual tradition.
We planned to hike in my stomping grounds at Bushy Hill Nature Center, where there are 700 acres of woodlands with blazed trails. Schoolmates, where I teach, rents a building on these grounds. Miriam and I decided to hike the blue trail to the red trail. This route would take us around Bushy Hill Lake and then into the Cedar Swamp, one of my favorite places on earth. As we started down the blue trail, my mind wandered to past hikes and to the Explorers with whom I shared this trail. Miriam and I hiked over “Tripper Alley,” named that by the children because of all the rocks and roots along that section of the blue trail. Then we passed “the hop rocks,” a favorite place for building dams and floating sticks down the stream that gently flows between the rocks. Soon, I thought, I will have twelve new Explorers to share theses special places with. I can’t wait!