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To pay homage to beauty is to admire Nature; to admire Nature is to worship God” ~ Epictetus

Why is it that on the very rare occasion one get’s to sleep in in the morning he/she is usually wide awake hours before the sun comes up? That was me yesterday morning. I saw 5:30 a.m. “Too early,” I moaned, rolled over and went back to sleep, sort of. At 6 a.m. my mind was still buzzing and couldn’t convince the rest of my body to return to dreamland. I welcomed the morning at 6:30 a.m. with a not-so-good “Good morning!” but remained tucked under the covers, hoping … Minutes later, “Yup still awake.” 7 a.m. “WHY??” 7:30 a.m., surrender. “OK, OK I’m really up. Where’s my freaking coffee???” Rrrgh!

Thanks to my husband who couldn’t sleep either it was awaiting me downstairs along with a very perky 10-year-old wondering when he could search for his eggs. I love that he still gets excited for all the Hallmark-induced holidays. I’m not sure what he believes in. Just the other day he asked me what the heck a big rabbit handing out eggs had to do with a holiday that was supposed to be about Jesus. We both agreed it was rather odd, and moved on quickly lest we spoil the fun for the upcoming Sunday.

Shea didn’t have to wait long to begin his search. Just moments after he had asked about the eggs, his big brother and sister meandered downstairs, and the hunt was on. Baskets were found, eggs were discovered, and then one kid disappeared to his bedroom, the other parked herself in the living room with Mark and I, and Shea continued to look for the eggs.

“Why aren’t you hunting?” we inquired.

“We just split the loot anyway,” McKenna explained.

Ahhh. So we were letting little brother and all his Easter excitement find the eggs, and then big sister and big brother would partake in the divvying up of the moola afterwards.

(Yes, I said “moola.” After years of Easter candy going uneaten, we decided to throw the kids each $20 to spend during their Spring Break which we would probably would have given them anyway. So they find all the eggs with $60 worth of cash inside and then split it amongst the three of them. Judge if you may.)

But apparently the older kids had learned a valuable lesson through the years. They had figured out a way to avoid the work, but still get paid. Shea would have none of that this year, and to light a fire under everyone we supported him.

“Nope, you get what you find this year,” I announced. “Shea’s kicking butt!” The sound of Max bolting down the stairs to that little tid-bit of news resembled a herd of buffalo, (oh, my light-footed son), and once again the search was on.

As the minutes ticked by, I realized it was getting closer to church time. I really wanted to go, it being one of the holiest days of the year and all, but another cup of joe was calling my name, and I wasn’t in the mood to rush through that 5 minute power shower I would need to take if I was going to make it into town on time. And then music to my ears courtesy of Mark.

“Why don’t we go for a family Easter hike later.” Cue the angels because that’s what I heard as I saw myself celebrating the resurrection of Christ in the woods instead of in an uncomfortable pew, or worse, on a folding chair, in Fellowship Hall. “I’m in!” 

The hunt began to fade as a few elusive eggs remained hidden, and I polished off another cup of coffee. Oh yeah, I also snacked on some sticky buns (AKA Monkey Bread) — “Delicioso!” — that Mark had made earlier (see recipe below), and then took a 30 minute nap on the couch (Ahh, those angels were working overtime yesterday). Then it was time for us to head out the door to our “church of the woods.”

Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than what is in books, for they speak with the voice of God.”  ~ George Washington Carver

The kids decided our hike would take us to the Old Settlement, as we call it, a group of old stone foundations in the middle of the woods. We’ve been told they were Dutch, but there is evidence to the contrary so I’m not sure. Anyway, the path takes us along some powerlines, across a bridge that takes us over the brook where Max and his friends like to fish, and into the woods to the foundations. As we climbed in, out, and around the first foundation, the kids began asking questions, LOTS of questions, and no one told them to stop. (Click here to see the earlier post that references). Some we could answer, others we couldn’t. For the answers to the latter, we suggested the kids watch a few episodes of “Little House on the Prairie.” Hey, I grew up in the school of Pa and Laura and so can they!

But even amidst the questions and the chatter, I have to say I was feeling just as peaceful, if not more, in the woods, with my husband, kids, and faithful Murphy dog, as I have sitting in church. Something about being in nature (in God’s house), and surrounded by the spirits of settlers past, made our excursion into the woods pretty surreal yesterday. And I enjoyed it immensely.

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” ~ John Muir

Following the trek to the foundations we wandered over to a makeshift shooting range, where Mark and Max examined the shooter’s handy work,

and Kenna and Murphy played in the brook.

“I would make a good Indian,” Kenna said as she bounced from rock to rock to the other side of the brook and back. “You could call me Swift Foot.” Anyone who has watched Kenna play sports will laugh at that one. As my friend has said on more than one occasion, “McKenna seems to have an intense love affair with the floor/ground.”

“Yeah, OK Swift Foot,” I said with more than a hint of sarcasm. “What will we call you after you land on your butt in the water?”

Mark had some suggestions, “Princess Tripahontas,” “Swiftless Foot,” “Chief Dontfallonyourass.” Ok, I made up that last one because I couldn’t remember the rest, but it’s something he’d say.

Meanwhile Shea created channels in the mud, to divert the water pouring down the mountain trail into the brook. “This is so much fun,” said my usually content couch potato.

Then we hiked onward and upward along the rocks and the small stream in search of the water’s source, which we never found. But we did find a rock on which Kenna performed a scene out of the “Lion King,”

… and another old foundation.

Then, after corralling the gang, we headed back into the woods, off the trail, and turned towards home (I think), where we ran into some of our old friends (the kids favorite climbing rocks) …

Kara we found your boulder! You just have to hike a few miles in the woods to get it.

Yes. I was there!

… and Max got up close and personal with some prickers.

And then we headed home … only to realize that when we got there we were missing something, or better, someone. Max. He had decided to take a different root home with a few quickly hurled directions to him via Dad. Well, I’ve been at the receiving end of both Dad’s directions (not so good), and Max’s listening skills (even worse), so that didn’t work so well.

My peaceful morning walk turned into a pissed off tirade at good ‘ole Marky, after which he ventured back into the woods to find our missing boy. Fifteen minutes later, Shea found Max walking up the road, apparently backtracking to our trail after he came face to face with an uncrossable swamp (which Dad told him he would run into if he went the wrong way).

Regardless, everyone was now safe and sound, semi-relaxed, and little closer to God. Mark and I even called out God’s and Jesus’ names a few times during the course of that 15 minutes when Max was missing! Happy Belated Easter!

Sticky Bun Recipe

3/4 c. chopped pecans or walnuts 15 frozen dinner rolls (raw bread dough) 1 3 1/2 oz. package of butterscotch (cooking) pudding 6 Tbs. margarine, melted 3/4 c. brown sugar 1 tsp. cinnamon

Grease a bunt pan and pour nut pieces on bottom of the pan. Layer frozen dough balls on top of nuts. sprinkle the dry pudding mix over rolls.
 
Melt margarine in a small pan and mix in cinnamon and brown sugar. Drizzle the mixture over the top of the dough and cover with greased plastic wrap and then wrap with a towl. Allow it to sit for at least 9 hours (overnight).
 
Preheat oven to 325-degrees. Put the rolls in the oven and turn the temperature down to 300-degrees. Bake 14 minutes. Cool for 4 minutes. Turn pan upside down on a plate or platter, and serve.