The Waterfall Project – Part Five

kids exploring around the waterfall

After two or three weeks of what felt like nightly work at the waterfall, we went almost a full month without making it down there at all. Between rainy weather, cold weather and a busy schedule, the waterfall ended up with a few weeks of solitude. Then it got a little warmer…picnic weather in fact.

So we invited over some friends and their three kids on a Friday night. We figured we’d set up a bbq style picnic down on the banks of the creek and let the adults visit while the kids played. Mr W fired up the grill and cranked out some hamburgers and hot dogs and I packed up some fresh fruit, fresh veggies and plenty of drinks before loading several blankets and a card table into the back of the tractor wagon.

Pretty soon, everyone was kicking back in the evening sunshine chowing down on freshly grilled sandwiches.

picnic of fresh grilled sandwiches

Of course there was a creek, a waterfall and a pond not 10 yards away. Six kids under the age of ten are not going to survive on a picnic blanket long when they’re already suited up with water shoes and clothes they can get dirty.

It started with skipping a few rocks and leaning over the edge looking for crayfish.

searching for crayfish

Then it moved on to trying to climb across the waterfall…

attempting to scale the waterfall

Pretty soon, the first slip happened. It was inevitable really. Six kids on a warm day? Yeah…they’re going to stay out of the water. Their youngest was following her older brothers across the waterfall ledge and we saw her lose her grip and disappear from site, right into the pond. A second later, she stood up, sputtering a bit and laughing.

She worked her way back out of the water, not looking like she minded in the slightest.

the little one takes a dunk

That’s when the oldest boys decided it was time to get a little more daring. First they worked their way along the rest of the slate ledge beside the pond.

kids and waist deep water

Then they gave up that and decided to just go for it. We’d warned them to go slow because Mr W and I hadn’t had a chance to test the depth of the water yet. Plus, we didn’t know if the bottom of the pond was mud, rocks or a smooth sheet of slate. We didn’t figure it was more than three or four feet deep, but the last thing I wanted was for the son of a friend to vanish into the middle of our supposedly safe pond the first day we used it.

Pretty soon, they were waist deep.

Of course at this point, they’d created massive motivation for the rest of the kids to finish eating. It’s one thing to miss out on splashing rocks or poking at crayfish…but swimming in the pond? Food got eaten pretty quickly at that point.

Pretty soon, they were all piling in.

Of course Thing Three was a little fearful, so Mr W had to go join them in the water to help coax him in.

all the kids piling in

The water really wasn’t very deep at all. There’s a pretty gradual slope from the dam down to the deepest parts. At no point did it go above chest height on any of the kids. In fact, Thing One got brave enough to walk in pretty deep…though she wouldn’t go the last few feet no that first trip in.

The boys worked their way through the entire pond and reported back that the bottom was “hard and smooth,” so I’m pretty sure it’s just a flat base of rock. That was good to know as some parts of the creek have enough mud on the bottom to steal a shoe right off your foot.

Of course once they’d played around in the pond, they decided it was time to go up on top of the waterfall to play in the algae that had grown on the rocks. The water is only about 1/2 inch deep as it goes across the solid slate just before the waterfall. That means once spring warms up and the sun hits it, it quickly forms a thick green mossy carpet. It’s pretty…and as the boys discovered, it’s also easy to push around, gather up and sling into the trees.

All in all, they had a great time. After an hour or so of splashing around, the dad’s took them further down the creek and through the giant tunnel that runs under the highway overpass nearby while the moms cleaned dinner up.

Then we headed up to the house to hose them all down and get them changed into dry clothes before capping off the night with homemade ice cream on the swing set.

All in all, a wonderful reminder of why we spent all that time hauling brush and burning wood piles. We’ve still got a ways to go to continue cleaning things up, but at least for this year, the space is fully usable. In fact, the weather forecast says warm and sunny tomorrow. I have a feeling we’re all going to be finding our way down to the creek yet again tomorrow night.


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