When adventures melt your heart
Ponce de Leon
Lewis & Clark
Indiana Jones (Okay, I know he isn’t real, but he is one of my favorite fictional explorers.)
That last one is definitely real, but relatively unknown in the world of great adventurers and explorers. Reed and his trusty sidekick, Huckleberry were the rarest of adventurers. Every day, they were outside battling all kinds of foes. The neighbors never really knew the troubles which befell our street. Thankfully, the boy and his dog saved us from the worst calamities – dragons, pirates, aliens, and of course, the rare evil villains normally conquered by superheroes. The rest of us innocently went about the busyness of our days, oblivious to the perils surrounding us.
Thankfully, our boy was ever vigilant, because his imagination was packed on every trip and vacation. A quick look out of the camper would find him engaged in an epic duel with a heretofore unknown baddie. His enthusiasm for the stories his mind created carried over into the some of the most interesting places, including his grandmother’s treasured (no pun intended) vegetable garden.
One year, my sweetie and I decided to take a much-needed parents-only vacation. We trekked to North Dakota in a minivan filled with kids, suitcases, a few fries on the floorboards and visions of sleeping in and eating grown up food swirling in our heads. Dropping the kids at Grandma’s house, we hopped a train on tracks which literally followed in the long forgotten prairie footsteps of Lewis and Clark heading westward.
Refreshed and renewed we returned to learn of the fun created by our boy, his siblings, and cousins. Every good grandma has a junk drawer. Grandma Lorraine has one to rival all others. In a moment of sheer genius (or boredom – one can never tell in these moments) Reed convinced Grandma to allow the gang to bury some of the items from her stash of once loved, but now neglected, items to create a treasure map.
Adventure rarely leaves the explorer, but sometimes the great ones leave us much too early. Although I am certain he would have continued to create glorious and epic scenes here on earth, God called him home to heaven, what I can only imagine is the greatest place of exploration, at twelve years old.
When you love someone with that much creative and imaginative force in the world, his absence leaves a craterous hole in your existence. A few years after his passing, we quite accidentally stumbled upon a way to fill in some of the excitement for which we silently longed.
Our find – geocaching – was one that we know without a doubt, Reed would have loved. After gaining some experience (the rest of us were, of course, novice adventurers), we decided to create a geocache in memory of our great explorer. But where? Where would we place such a worthy remembrance? We considered North Dakota, where our adventurer now rests, just a mile or so away from his buried treasure spot.
Believe me, the gut-wrenching irony of one of my greatest treasures buried in the same fertile prairie soil is not lost on me.
Eventually we decided it would be more fun to show the rest of the world a spot he loved closer to our home, settling on our favorite place to snowshoe. Nestled in a relatively unknown location right on the campus of our local university, we spent many days were spent hiking and snowshoeing throughout the trails there. If he were here, Reed would tell you his favorite part was when we would go on the trails deep in the woods and he would wait for just the right place to tap a tree, causing a mini-avalanche of snow to land on the person behind him. Often that person, I would not recall that as my favorite part. Adventure and a wicked sense of humor make for a very interesting combination.
It was the perfect place to share our boy and brother with the rest of the adventuring world. Securing the proper permission, we logged our cache on the world’s greatest treasure hunt www.geocaching.com and hoped that some would find the treasure. They did; many extolling they would have never known Reed’s favorite spot existed.
Notifications from treasure hunters usually arrive at those moments when we could really use a pick me up. For this we can only thank God and smile remembering a boy we all love (never in the past tense, because he will always be a part of our lives).
That very thing happened last week at work. It was one of those days when the passion I pour into being an educator exhausted me until . . . one of my colleagues stopped by my office to share about her class. Holding up a tiny baseball card featuring a familiar face, she melted my heart, reminding me I work at one of the best places in the world. I believe all the great explorers have one major thing in common: an insatiable curiosity, a drive to know more and more about the world – its beauty and its people. Reed lived life large. Some of his greatest influences were teachers who dared him to dream BIG. Holding back a few tears, I hope my colleague knows one little redheaded boy would be thrilled to know a classroom full of future teachers were inspired to dream and to someday plant those dream seeds in the imaginations of their students.
I know for sure his momma was!
Here’s to the red-headed wonders, explorers, adventurers, teachers and students: DREAM ON!