The wind softly twisted and combed through the trees as I packed up the last of the roast beef sandwiches.
"Are you ready, Jacob?" I asked.
"Yes. Is there a waterfall?" he said, anxiously waiting by the door.
"I'm not sure about a waterfall, but I say that's what we make our hike about today. Let's think of things we can try to find. Like forest 'I Spy'. How does that sound?"
Pulling off to the side of the road, I couldn't help but smile at Jacob glued to the window with his hand on the door handle. Snatching up our backpack, we started down the path. Mossy stumps freckled with mushrooms of orange and yellow graffitied the trail. The sun played a relentless game of hide and seek through the trees, blinding me every few feet. I didn't mind though; my attention was on Jacob as he ran down the path ahead of me.
It felt as though we walked for miles up and down hills and steep ledges. We found all sorts of amazing exhibits. Nests, streams, plants, and critters. It was humbling. But after a while, I could tell by his slowing pace that it was time to settle down for lunch.
"Look Mom, a box ... What do you think it is? Do you think someone lost it?" The words flew out of him almost as fast, as he shot up and dismissed his lunch.
"I don't know, honey. It looks like an ammo box. Don't touch it."
As much as I loved sitting on the makeshift chair I had constructed out of a backpack and hoodie, I made my way to the box. Either someone was stashing a box of ammunition or this was one of those geo boxes. I opened the lid. Cobwebs stretched through the inside of the dark green box, unveiling strange random objects. It was a geo box! I removed a memo pad and set it aside as I rummaged through the rest of the items. Inside were two pens, a tiny plastic soldier, blue toy ring shaped as a heart, a yellow yo-yo, and a lighter.
"What is it Mom? Why are there names and dates in this notebook?" I turned to see Jacob was thumbing through the pages, eyes wide and skimming the list.
"It's a Geo box. People hide it in the woods. They mark it on a map, and leave it for people to find. When you find one, you're supposed to mark down who you are and the date you found it. You then place your own item in the box and take something out."
Jacob tore through the box like a stocking on Christmas. I wrote our names in the notepad and entered the date. Looking up I saw Jacob digging in our backpack and into his pockets.
"Can we do it, Mom? I have a silly band I can put in it; I even have one for you."
"I just filled out the paper; you can put your silly bands in and take two things." I told him. Taking the soldier for himself and the ring for me we packaged the geo box back up and returned it to the decaying log braided in the pine needles. We finished our lunch and headed to our truck.
The trail twisted and the birds danced. We hadn't found a waterfall, but instead discovered a geo box full of treasures.
How amazing. As I watched him run ahead and turn back with a smile, I realized that this moment was one of those little things that shape our hearts. I struggled not to tear up when I looked down at his small, gentle footprints in the mud. I sprinted to catch up to him and placed my arm around him as we walked.
"Thanks for taking me today. Who knew we would find a treasure?!" He gratefully tipped his head against my shoulder.
"You're welcome, honey." I said squeezing him just a little closer. Little did he know I'd brought my treasure with me that day, and found a memory that will last us forever.
Ivory Fishgold is a Sinclairville resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org