The Little Lathams loved running and playing all over our 20 acres of Ozark country. In the process, they found a few spots that were just so amazing! One of these places was quite a distance from our house. We came across it while on a family hike exploring the property.
We were deep in the woods. It was dark and
cool there, even in the heat of summer. The trees and vines were beautiful and
mysterious. The kids scampered about hopping up on stumps and fallen trees.
They called to each other pointing out forest treasures and the occasional wild
critter. Then suddenly, we stepped from one magical world into another. A small
clearing opened up before us.
We hadn’t noticed, but our hike had been
taking us up a gentle slope so that we ended up on the top of a hill. The
children fell silent as they stepped into the sunshine and looked around. Then
the spell was broken as they scattered to explore the place. It was a pretty
meadow, circular in shape and sprinkled with wild flowers. The interesting part
for the Little Lathams was the area around the edge of the clearing where the
trees grew thin.
It looked as if giants had played a game of dodge ball and left rocks strewn about as evidence. Some were as big as boulders, embedded in the ground
and surrounded by smaller rocks forming little nooks and hiding places. The
kids loved it and didn’t want to leave that afternoon.
They went back the next day and many days
after. They began calling their special place “The Farm”. Finally, one day, I
was invited on a hike up to see what they had been doing. As we neared the
clearing, I saw what looked like a miniature homestead. The children had
built rock walls, a foot high, marking off different areas of the farm. There was the outline of a cottage, garden, and various out buildings. As they
took me on a tour, I was amazed to see all the details the farm hands had included. A stove in the kitchen, stacked fire wood, a chicken coop (complete with
nesting boxes) and even garden tools were all there!
Nestled in the dappled shade, it looked homey and inviting. Everything was fashioned from materials found there in the clearing. The colors and shapes blended naturally to make the Farm look as if it were part of the landscape. The children used sticks, branches, vines, dirt and so
many of those amazing Ozark rocks.
and farmers in our part of the world cursed the rocks each spring, as a
new crop rose from the earth to be toted away before planting could take place.
But on this day, I was grateful for those rocks and the little hands that
used them to make something so beautiful.