Last Saturday, we hiked a trail in Indian Rocks Park, one of many trails in the protected Appalachian woods near our summer home in the mountains. We had not visited this particular park in well over two decades, and for good reason. It is here that we thought, for a couple of agonizing hours, that we had lost our children to the woods in the dusk of early November.
We had just purchased this property on Sanderlin Mountain, prior to the first real flush of development in what is now a thriving community. We were excited about fixing it up, driving up from Atlanta on Sunday afternoons to work on the house. Our two kids were just a little too young to leave by themselves for the afternoon and of an age that soon becomes bored when separated from toys, friends and television. The rest of the details are not important – why we encouraged them to go for a walk, why it took us so long to realize that they hadn’t returned, and why they ventured so far, all the way to Indian Rocks Park. Suddenly it was getting dark, and cold, and they weren’t back. We spent a frantic hour or two driving in several directions, as far as we thought they could have wandered. I think every parent has had at least one such torturous experience and, fortunately, most have also experienced the sweet flood of relief when the child finally turns up, safe and bewildered at all the attention.