We took our three-year-old son, Joaquin (AKA “Kino”) on a treasure hunt. Something he’d been dying to do for ages. He learned about maps, compasses, shovels, and goblin treasures! His infant sister, Zephyr (AKA “Zeph”), tagged along too. Happy as a clam to be swaddled up with our intrepid planner and pathfinder, Mommy—otherwise known as Rita.
I gave Kino his very own working compass, and I had another I carried. That we both had compasses immediately piqued his interest. He 'sorta' got what maps and compasses do after I explained. And he kept referring to them to guide the way.
He watches shows with dinosaurs, pirates, and explorers though, so I think he was able to apply all this to what we did today. His ginormous brain is a sponge!
My Argentinian cousin, Mirta, loved the idea of our adventure in the woods. She enthused over the photos, and I proudly told her how close to this enchanted forest we live:
"Este bosque es solamente cinco minutos desde nuestra casa," I reported. "No muy lejos. Y en este tiempo loco profiere mucha paz."
"Creo que tuvimos el privilegio de caminar junto a los Reyes y Reina Rita y Zeph en la panza...por ese bellísimo Lugar muyyy Mágico…"
I'd almost forgotten. On their trip to the US last fall, our cousins came to visit my stepmother but also took a side trip to visit us up here. We took them on a trail that ran parallel to this one we chose here for the treasure hunt. Seems we bring everyone we can out on those trails, to feel the ease and peace that we so happily stumbled into by moving here. To know that this place is providing all the foundational moments for Kino and Zeph…no words do justice.
By the end of the hunt, Kino became King of the Forest, having found a special wooden token with a powerful Nordic rune, which Odin himself inscribed on it. I found the pocket knife that some crazy t-rex took from my belt, which made me the rightful Dino King—though Kino forced me to abdicate in his favor, shortly after. Rita said it was fair, since I’m old and decrepit. Humph! Zeph got crowned King of Goblins, after we found the wooden teething necklace that a mysterious, magical hawk had taken from her. And Rita became the King of Wild Things, when we got home, and kicked up her feet with fresh-cut watermelon wedges.
The whole adventure was Rita's idea, and we sorta cobbled it together as we went along. Winged it, as they say.
“It's just sooo cool!” Liz, one of our best friends exclaimed. She continued, adding: “Joey [her son] has been really into pirates and finding his treasure, but it's usually him hiding a coin somewhere. I feel like he would be over the moon if we surprised him like this. You guys are awesome parents.”
I must admit that felt good. Stoked the ego a bit.
“We should take the boys on a hunt together maybe!” I offered. “It'd be excellent!”
We had good reason to take this adventure though, as I explained to Liz:
“Kino had been doing the same as Joey, playing the pirate, but otherwise getting increasingly restless, acting out in general. We realized he needed something magical to jog his brain a bit.”
Cabin fever had indeed hit our guy hard. Not that he doesn’t have playdates with kids whose families are in our tight-knit pod. It’d become clear he needed something hardcore awesome to shake him from his pandemic doldrums. And it turned out to be good for the rest of us too.
Mirta said: "Chicos el tesoro esta dentro de Ustedes como Familia... Me encanto la aventura compartida... Ame esos senderos dentro de ese colorido bosque…"
And she thought the map a nice touch.
"Gracias!" I couldn't help boasting a little more: "Es mi creación! Fue muy divertido a dibujar. Encanto mapas. Y ahora creo que Kino encantas mapa también."
"Me encanto la idea," she replied, bursting my bubble just a bit. I mean, okay sure, I only spent about an hour drawing it and colouring it in and burning the edges for that extra special effect.
Maybe I could have done better if I'd had more prep time…
My cousin is right, though. Not just in what she said about my map, but in what she stated about families, too. The real treasure is in our families and what we nurture there. For us, especially in these difficult times (with the pandemic, economic collapse, civil unrest, and yet another insane election cycle) spending our time with each other, building our family bond in nature, connecting with our Earth, keeps us going. She is very much our family too. And, folks, Earth is alive and waiting for us to come out and play. That's one way, at least, to stay connected. And sane.
-C. F. Lapinel