This early Sunday morning was softly sunny with pillows of clouds rushing over the Santa Cruz mountains.
The girls and I decided to go for a hike. A short nature walk around a lake just off of Skyline road.
It’s called the Alpine Pond Loop. A kid friendly wide trail winding around a small lake full of interesting plants and animals.
It was an beautiful drive, the clouds were low and wrapped around the ridge. Large drops of rain fell onto the windshield. The fog was so thick, my lights were on and I was driving slowly. As we traveled further down the ridge, the sun began to break through. By the time we arrived at the trailhead, the sun was shining.
A thin layer of fog rolled across the lake. Tall cattails reached high into the sky. Ducks paddled serenely across the still water. As we passed by, a large group of quail ran into the bushes. We paused and listened. Quail chatter rose up from the trees, as if we somehow disrupted their morning.
We appreciated our solitude, there was no one else here.
The nature center wasn’t open yet, but we checked out observation binoculars anyway. We passed by dew covered spiderwebs; delicately attached to twigs, softly swinging in the slight breeze. We counted five of them. Mia spotted two butterflies. We saw at least six lizards scurrying between logs and across the trail. The blackberries were still ripening and filled the trail borders.
Halfway around the lake, we found a sunny spot on a short dock and sat down. Swinging our legs over the side, we ate a snack. Enjoying the warmth of the sun, we listened to the silence and looked for turtles swimming in the lake. I wrapped an arm around each one of them, the girls leaned in.
After a bit, we stood up and hiked again. We examined an old bench and looked for bugs. Mia found two walking sticks and drew designs in the dirt. Ava admired the cattails.
We rounded the bend and came out where we started. On the way back, there was a short tunnel to walk through. Of course, Mia discovered potato bugs (roly-polies) on the walls. The girls quickly collected a handful of the friendly insects. They proudly showed me their catch of the day.
But there are rules in our house, no bugs in the car. Yes, I had to make a rule like this.
A short time later, we were back at the parking lot. Both girls dropped their bugs into the tall grass.
Free once again for the next bug loving child to discover.