The morning was good. I got some early writing done and contemplated snowshoeing with the boys. Well, it so happens that sleeping five-year-olds are too cute to wake up. And quiet, which is always a bonus in the land of permanent bounciness. So the mountains have to take a rain cheque on us although their whipped cream beauty was more alluring than ever. But the boys wanted to see the river. True river rats never betray the banks on the first true warm spring day.

The river it is, I said. Aside from two self-absorbed dogs and their equally absent owners, the banks were serene and motionless, not counting the gentle swaying of the water. Our usual place was drenched in sunlight, and the trees welcomed us with swelling green buds. It smelled of spring.
Playing by the river is always fun. Sand, water and all, but there is something almost mystical about exploring the banks. There’s strange looking bushes and mucky stretches of land the boys call “the quick sands.” Which they are, for all they know. So when the boys took off to explore I let them go far because it feels right to me that they wander freely and if often my approving of such adventures makes people frown, that is yet another reminder that we live in fear and that is one of the things that prevents us from experiencing joy.

The sand was warm and I thought of getting my toes in but then I heard the boys scream bloody murder, one louder than the other and I realized that my little fellow was stuck in the “quick sands”.
I ran like a mother would to save the distressed cub, but slowed down as I saw his brother calm and somewhat amused by the situation but not stressed.
“I can get him out, Mom, it’s OK.” And I knew things were just fine. Fighting sticky mud with laughs and screams and driftwood that was thought to free his little brother’s booted feet, my eldest son handled himself like a big boy would. So they walked out, feet first. Literally. They unstuck the boots afterwards. Socks and pants and sweaters had been sacrificed to the mud gods.
The next three hours were spent filling socks with mud “Look Mom, I’m Big Foot!” and pretending they were gigantic exotic fruit the river brought over. Or dinosaur eggs. Who knew mud-filled socks can be so big. They really are. Building dams, trampling over them with muddy feet, feeling the sparkling water buzz around their ankles, running to warm up on the sand every now and then, all of that was done by the boys in a day’s work.

I got my toes to dance in the sand too and that was perfect. We brought home river shells, a big block of beautiful gnarled driftwood, loads of sand on clothes and a mud-filled sock. Just one, because “The river took the other one, Mom,” my little guy said as we walked to the car. It seemed only natural to him that the river would do that. And why not. You don’t see mud-filled socks every day, even if you’re a river.
Sunshine was still jumping from tree to tree all the way to the river as we left the banks. It’s spring…if you’re a river rat you just know the sweet smell of water warming up and dancing…