The locked gates guarding gravel roads into the forest are only minutes from my house. They are not locked for everyone. You can still walk down them. I like to take my kids, let them lead, let them discover.

Nikolaj likes to run ahead and dart into the first opening (he says holes) he can find. Coral likes to chase him. She falls because she wants to keep her hands in her pockets. She stops often, and says, “Dad, isn’t this beautiful?” Nik will ask me to take a picture of a stump with ferns growing out of it so we will always remember it, and also know how to get back.

Only feet away from an official road on maps, there are lots of things to see. Mushrooms climb out of the mud. A newt slithers unnoticed, until noticed, and is turned over with a boy with a stick revealing a bright orange belly.

Back on the road, Nik uses his summer creek skills of turning over rocks and looking for crawdads. He rolls over a large rock, and calls his sister over. They crouch, looking at a green caterpillar. I heard the word chrysalis being used. Nik throws the rock into the forest.

Coral falls again. Nik stops to tell her, as she cries, the thing about adventures. He tells her, “The thing about adventures is that sometimes you fall down on slippery slimy slug trails.”

Indeed. Here’s to getting back up. Here’s to a caterpillar under the rocks you turn over, and a waiting newt with a bright belly to greet you in the opening of the forest.

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