The day is ours

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Up on the old dam, the roll of thunder bursts into a flash of lightning and I say, “Time to run girls!” so we haul back down the embankment, and over our shoulders we can see the wall of rain hit the opposite side of the pond and the bees go flying every which way as we tear through the wildflowers; we dive into the car at full run, stuffed animals scattering, and I slam the door behind us, thunder crashing right over our heads followed by a wave of water – the girls scream and laugh and scream some more and I spend some time inaccurately explaining how rubber tires ground us, and yes I’m positive your grandpa came in from cutting the grass when the storm approached.

We eat trail mix and warm orange juice until I can safely see through the rain enough to drive and there’s yelling at each lightning flash and off we go to find a tower before the next wave hits us and the road stays slick, but we’re full of sugar and mischief, and we let the weather do as it pleases because we’re without a care and earlier we saw a butterfly and there’s pictures to take and geocaches to find; no telling what might come next.

Down Derry way the rain has mellowed to a low growl so we park and head up a small rise and along a lost, beaten asphalt road – dodging raindrops – until the fire tower comes into sight and the girls shout and yell again at the smell and sizzle of the old steel; my daughter’s been here, her friend hasn’t ever seen such a thing out in the middle of nowhere so they charge on up and I struggle to keep pace, saying “Remember girls, the weather is iffy so we go up and come right down” and they nod and giggle until we’re 40 feet up looking at the tops of the pines.

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“We’re full of sugar and mischief.”

They touch the top stair like ringing a bell and I barely have time to catch up before they are heading back, so I do a 180 and down we go, the shortest fire tower visit on record – back down, down the creaky stairs, the girls pretending to be scared (“Please daddy,” they moan, “the only way for us to get down is if you give us a snack”) but a rip of thunder makes them forget about sugar, and we beeline back to the car, the dog howls from a nearby kennel at our backs, until another car dive and we lean back in the seats panting as another wave of water cleanses our souls.

Somewhere in the day’s distraction, Little Bean has explained geocaching to her friend and now the girls are begging me to find some treasure so I punch in some numbers pretending to be a pirate and find a nearby site – not in the woods and not a micro, something substantial – and I drive through the rain while the girls feast on strawberries and taffy until I come across a parking area not far from the container and we wait, wait for a clearing and off we go once more.

There’s a small bridge over a culvert and some soaked park benches and inside the long curve of a guardrail the girls find a small magnet box with an eraser and a couple dimes, which they empty and then refill with shiny rocks and Little Bean’s friend says, “How can there just be treasures all over, just sitting around,” and my daughter assures her that that’s how treasure works – it’s just right there, all over, you just have to look for it and that all feels just about perfect.

Later at home, the girls heads are buzzing from the day and they are dirty and their hair is tangled and knotted and I peek my head into my daughter’s room and they are playing in their doll house; they both look up and Little Bean says “You can play in the doll house too,” so I get down on my tired knees and they show me what’s what and where is where in the doll house world and I’m convinced that adventure is always relative and sometimes 40 feet high in a fire tower during a thunderstorm is the same as sitting on the floor in front of a doll house, so the day grows dim and the girls never seem to get tired and I’m pretty sure that all that is now is here and the rest can wait.

About this Author

Dan Szczesny

Dan Szczesny is a longtime journalist and author who lives with his wife and energetic daughter in Manchester. Dan writes a daily journal called Day By Day where you can subscribe for FREE to get essays, articles and updated. Learn more about Dan’s adventures and Day By Day at