She asks us to form a circle at the edge of the meadow. We look over our shoulders and squint into the woods. Our children linger in the forest, enjoying their last moments as Screech Owls.
Phones concealed in pockets and worries hidden under ballcaps, we grown ups are held by the magic of this place. A spell is woven when Wild Earth sets up camp, and it’s a privilege to be invited into our kids’ secret world.
Out here in the glare of the sun, we realize the spell will soon fade and we’ll soon return to “real” life.
But the queen of the wood herself is still with us and she won’t let us lose track of the magic quite yet. This is the woman who greeted our darlings with hugs or high fives or running tackles each morning. She is the one who took care to call each child by name and look into their eyes at the closing circle.
She is woven of wisdom and kindness and the very spark of childhood wonder itself. After all, what else could a woman named Esperanza who directs a young children’s summer camp be made of?
As Esperanza speaks to this gathering of adults, I like to believe that we all made silent promises.
We would keep the spirit of exploration and the mystery of nature alive in our homes despite the distractions of modern life. A part of us would linger here beside this blessed stream and loving rock so we could remind our kids that this wild patch of earth was part of them too.
As our moment together ends, she asks us to describe how we’ve seen the camp experience unfold at home. Parents mention the songs that filled the air and the tremendous confidence they see as kids race and jump and climb like never before.
I tell the group that I’m grateful that Wild Earth has brought back the fairies.
A year of kindergarten had squeezed the mystical out of our daughter’s play. She’d been learning how to master the indoor world and how to thrive on a mere 15 minutes of recess a day. Public school was designed to foster skills that were the antithesis of creating remedies in the Healing Dome and adventuring to the Clay Pits.
Two weeks of fairy house building and storytelling had restored this five-year-old’s woodland companions and reminded her of her true place amongst them. It was as if a piece of our girl’s innocence and imagination had been returned to us.
As a final gift, Esperanza teaches us a song to sing to our children when we meet them again by the barn:
We raise you up
We raise you up
We raise you in a song, song, song.
Life will surely shift your shape
But you’ll live on in a song
That was six long months ago, but I still find myself humming the tune. On that July day we were all woven into a song of what childhood – and parenthood – is meant to be.
Marisa Goudy is a writer and a writing coach who helps emerging thought leaders tell strong stories. Every day in 2016 she’s writing a short story about motherhood, work, and the delicious mess of everyday life. Find her #365StrongStories project on her blog at marisagoudy.com. More about Marisa's work.