The other day our landlord's lawn service came by to do their last work of the season in our yard. The kids watched entranced from their bedroom windows as the men used their blowers to clear all the leaves off the lawn.
While the lawn is quite neat now, the leaves all went into the brook, where they clogged up among the rocks.
When we go outside to play, I try to be doing something active, like raking, trimming bushes, or just cleaning up toys. The kids seem to play much better when the adults around them are also engaged in something (though in the warm months I often choose to read a book instead).
It's been quite cold: it's about 35F right now at 2 pm. There's not much for me to do since the leaves are all raked away and nothing needs weeding or trimming, but it's much too cold to sit around reading. So I took a small leaf rake and cleared out some of the leaves from the rocks in the brook, freeing them to go downstream.
After I got tired of doing that and was sufficiently warmed up by my labors (wet leaves are amazingly heavy), I sat beside the brook for a few minutes. I never tire of watching the water, the birds coming to get a drink, or whatever there is to see along the banks that day.
I noticed that because I had freed up a few more places for the water to come through the rocks, the sounds of the brook were much louder. It reminded me of something from the very beginning of The Wind in the Willows, which I had just read to the kids the other day:
He thought his happiness was complete when, as he meandered aimlessly along, suddenly he stood by the edge of a full-fed river. Never in his life had he seen a river before--this sleek, sinuous, full-bodied animal, chasing and chuckling, gripping things with a gurgle and leaving them with a laugh, to fling itself on fresh playmates that shook themselves free, and were caught and held again. All was a-shake and a-shiver--glints and gleams and sparkles, rustle and swirl, chatter and bubble.(Try reading that out loud--the alliteration is wonderful!) Our little brook is not quite full-fed as that, but it certainly makes a lot of music. Recently I figured out its entire route--starting about 2 miles away from us, it finally merges with a small river and then a larger one before the water ends up in Newark Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. If anything, knowing that helps me explain to the kids why we shouldn't throw things into the brook: we wouldn't want to make the ocean dirty, now would we?