Sammy slouched on the couch, his eyes riveted on the animated figures. With a snap, they disappeared.
“Hey! You said I could watch cartoons today!”
“You’ve been staring at that TV for three hours. I want to you to go outside for a while.” His mom tugged him to his feet and handed him his jacket.
Sammy looked over his shoulder with pleading eyes. “How long is a while?”
“At least a couple hours. Come back before suppertime.”
“Now, go on!” She gave his backside a pat and nudged him out the back door.
Sammy scuffed along the driveway until his toe hit a long stick. So, he picked it up and dragged it behind him, making a satisfying scratching sound and a wiggly line. Then he used the stick to bat some pine cones into the pasture.
He climbed on the fence and stared at Bessie chewing her cud. A chorus of honks overhead drew his attention to a flock of geese heading north. The wavering V got smaller and smaller until it faded into the horizon. A cloud looked like a bucking bronco. Now, it looked like a dragon, with puffs of steam coming from its nostrils. Now, it looked like a row of soldiers marching along. Now… it didn’t look like anything.
Sammy jumped down and plucked a long piece of grass. He whipped it back and forth until he saw a grasshopper. He tried to catch it, but it kept fluttering away. Finally, he captured it between his cupped hands. He peered between his fingers and had a staring contest with it. The grasshopper made a daring escape through an opening.
At the top of the hill, Sammy could see so far it looked like forever. The wind blew at his face. He spread his arms and flew back and forth down the hill until his plane crashed. Then he rolled over and over to the bottom. He lay on his back with his eyes closed – panting and listening to the rushing water. It sounded much louder than usual. He sprang to his feet to investigate.
With the melting snow and recent rains, the creek was quite high – much higher than it had been last summer. He found a branch and threw it into the water. The current carried it downstream on and on until he couldn’t see it anymore. He threw in another and watched it bounce down the rapids. One by one, he sent his fleet down the rushing river to meet the enemy.
He noticed a fallen log across the creek and scrambled along the banks to get a better view. It looked safe enough – as long as he was careful. Just to be sure, he took off his shoes, so he could grip the bark with his toes. He shimmied up on the tree trunk, squatting for a while to get his balance. Then slowly he stood – arms outstretched. Inch by inch, he scooted along the log. At one point, he had to close his eyes to keep from looking at the tumbling waves beneath him. Finally, he reached the upturned roots on the other side. With a cheer of triumph, he pranced about on the mossy bank.
A huge rock jutted into the stream. Sammy scaled to its top and peered over the edge. It had created a sheltered pool behind it. Sammy could see some fish in the quiet waters. He watched them sway back and forth, keeping their position without the slightest effort. When he shifted his position, a pebble rolled down and plopped into the pool, scaring the fish away. When the ripples calmed, he could see his reflection. He dropped another pebble. The ripples grew bigger and bigger until they melted into the grassy edges. He dropped one tiny pebble after another to keep the ripples going and going. Finally, he ran out of pebbles, and the water calmed again.
He noticed some stars in the pool – or maybe they were fireflies. He looked up. The dark purple sky was dotted with a million sparkles. He decided he had better go home. Straddling the fallen log, he scooted across the creek. Grabbing his shoes, he huffed up the steep hill, across the pasture, and under the fence. He burst through the back door.
His mom looked up from doing dishes. “There you are! Do you know what time it is?”
Sammy shrugged. “I forget all about time when I play outside for a while.
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