Stumbling Upon Effortless Joy on a Backyard Investigation
They’d been packing up to strike out for a backyard investigation excursion when the door slammed. Briar, home from her bike ride with Sean bellowed, “Ave, your turn.” Avery turned with a start, dropping the gear in her hand, “Sorry, gotta go.”
“Wait, Ave, you don’t want to investigate with me?” Finley asked crestfallen.
“Sorry, Fin, I just can’t,” she called from halfway down the stairs to the basement. Then Briar dashed through the door.
“Briar, would you like to go investigating with me?”
“Naw,” she waved a dismissive hand and grabbed a water bottle on her way up to her room.
I was wiping the counter down as Finley’s shoulders dropped, she looked at her investigating bag, “But who will go with me? Investigating is more fun with someone to share the discoverings with.”
I winced, she’d been so excited as we gathered the things she’d need.
“What exactly will I need? I mean, I am not sure I know all the stuffs that investigators need for investigating their investigations.” We moved about the house very seriously, speculating on the merits of this item and that. Finally, she was set. She had calculators bedecked with gems, handmade notebooks with twisty-tie bindings that could double as ties to lash down “borrower treasures,” a chipmunk who could “help us communicate with the creatures, because no one kills you if you hold a woodland creature,” pencils, and binoculars.
“I guess I am just not going to have an investigation today.” There was no guile, it was simply the youngest in the pack knowing when her sisters can’t be persuaded. She began to use one foot to nudge a Croc off by the sliding glass door. I set the dish towel down, turned the oven off and said, “You know what? I feel like investigating. Can you show me how?”
She looked up at me and nodded. “Yes, I can share my tips and tricks, maybe we’ll even see the baby bunny I spied last time. Remember though, you’ll need your own notebook and calculator.” I quickly gathered my tools and met her at the door. We made lazy circles in the yard as we scoured the grass, tall and wispy from nearly a week of rain, for clovers, four leaf being the best and three leaf being great, “because they represent three sisters with perfect hearts.”
“Maybe we should go into the woods now, do you have everything we need?” I asked.
“Yes, of course. I even have the pin wheel, it can tell us which way the wind is blowing and we can just walk the opposite way.”
We made our way into the woods, gingerly stepping over fallen trees. We passed the massive stick teepee that we made last year, tromped past piles of leaves until we found our first clue -- a small hole. Determining it must have been the front door, or maybe even the side entrance of a chipmunk or squirrel’s house, we left it alone, but noted the find. Next came a golf ball, a red berry, a strawberry blossom, and a borrower hut.
“Well, should we go find more clues in the other side of the yard?” She asked me. I nodded and turned to follow her. There, not ten feet from us, was the baby bunny.
She stopped, held a finger to her mouth sideways and whispered, “There he is.” I think I may have actually rubbed my eyes in disbelief. “Finley, you are the best investigator. I never imagined that we’d actually find the bunny tonight.” She shrugged her shoulders, cocked her head, and said, “Well, if we didn’t investigate we wouldn’t have, but you came.”
I knelt down. She put her hand on my shoulder and we just watched him. Every so often he would stop noshing on clover and look up, he’d lean back, raise his head, and turn our way. He was as curious as we were.
“Mom, can we catch him?” she asked hopefully, only hours before she’d set her pet earthworm, Strawberry, free in the garden. “We could love him so much.” I shook my head. “No, sweets, we have to love him from here.” She nodded. After a time I said, “What if we circle around to the house and try to get carrots for him.” She nodded and began slinking around the shed to get by without startling him. We agreed she’d wait for me in the woods, keeping an eye on him while I got the carrots and my phone to snap pictures.
“He’s still here. I think he might love me, mom.” I nodded, “Bet he does.” As we gently lobbed carrot bits his way Beso came toward us and began to dart toward the object of our attention. We shooed him away and followed the bunny. He’d taken shelter in the stick teepee.
“Oh, look mama, it’s like he knew we made it for him. It’s a safe little home for him.” She sighed a contented sigh.
I stood back watching Finley. Her toilet paper roll binoculars swung gently and her little hand toyed with the buckle on my old purse. She kept one foot up as if setting it all the way down would break the spell. The bunny sat, content to rest in the safety of the branches, as we watched him. My spirit billowed with the unexpected wonder of getting completely wrapped up in an investigation that delivered what I thought was impossible -- seeing the bunny and finding my way back to effortless joy.