Did you miss part one of this story? Click here to get the scoop before reading further.
All of these amazing moments were captured at Sweetwater Creek State Park.
While we did see what we now think was a baby Cottonmouth or Copperhead snake, the snake in the photo above was resting peacefully in it’s home in the visitor information center. We came across the baby snake within 5 minutes of being in the park. I was a little freaked out as I was hoping to spread out a picnic blanket and read. After the snake sighting I stood, on high alert, most of the time.
The first photo on the left is of my son, Sebastian, just being happy to be at the park and near water. At this point, I was so happy just to see him smile and look around in awe of our surroundings.
Sebastian is a Boy Scout and carries a small whittling knife with him when we go places like this. He has read a dozen books about surviving in the wilderness and watches wilderness survival shows on TV. He knows more about the anatomy of a knife than I though possible and he can tell you what just about any animal is, what species of turtle is crossing the road, and what you need to do if you get stuck in a tree during a flood, overnight. He’s that good.
I learned today just how crafty he can be with his whittling knife and with things he finds. From a water bottle that he had with him, six sticks, some fishing string he found, and a few leaves, he made a sail boat! He spent about 45 minutes gathering what he needed, testing out different ways to get the bottle to float most effectively, then designing and making the ‘leaf sail’. I intended on reading a book while he was playing by the water but I was so fascinated with what he was doing that it didn’t occur to me to do anything but watch him and listen to him talk about why the water bottle needed three more pebbles to make it more bouyant, or why the sticks had to be carved to just the right point, and how to sew fishing string into leaves. Yes, I saw SEW! My son can sew like no one’s business. He’s had a lot of practice with sewing badges on his Boy Scout shirt. He has never asked me to sew for him. He sews his own buttons, repairs holes in his clothes, and now I know he can sew leaves together to make a sail! Who would have thunk?
If I could have summoned fairies to come and take Sebastian’s sailboat to fairyland to use and enjoy, I would have. I am truly amazed at his patience and thinking skills.
On to the orange caterpillar. While checking out the rooftop garden at the visitor information center, we saw the most unusual orange caterpillars with spikes all over them, which is what you see in the photograph above. Upon researching ‘orange spikey caterpillar’, I found out that they are the caterpillars of the Gulf Fritillary butterfly (click to learn about this butterfly).
While we were enjoying the scenery by the lake Sebastian saw some movement in the clear water of the shore. It was a crayfish (Wikipedia link)! This crayfish was the most vibrant red of any crayfish I’ve ever seen. He was about the size of my hand and was very active. He wasn’t a scaredy crayfish.
At that moment, I though we’d seen everything possible but then I looked up only to see a gorgeous Great Blue Heron fly over us.
What next? A bear? An alligator? A shark perhaps. No, but just being there was more exhilirating than anything I expected for today especially starting off at 5am with a sick child.
He and I don’t spend much time together, alone, outside of the house. Hardly any at all so to see him so happy and in his element, surrounded by the nature that he loves so much, was nice.
On the way home Sebastian and I talked about everything that we saw at Sweetwater Creek State Park. I want to take my husband and daughter to see this beautiful park but I also made a promise to myself to see that Sebastian and I do more things like this, alone. He’s 13 years old. He’s a smart kid and he’ll be out of the house before I know it.
Just as I’ve always tried to do, it is my intent to cherish every moment with my kids. Sometimes I need to do that with each child, individually. Sometimes we can all laugh and create memories together. Either way, I am never happier than when I see my kids laugh, smile, and interact with each other and their surroundings (like the water and nature) as if they are one with it. That is what life is about.
If you missed part one of this story, click here to read it now.