"The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing."
Leigh released Travis from his leash, while I let Muffin follow. The dogs bounced after each other traipsing through the overgrown trails of the wildflower field that grew between a patch of wild blackberries to the west and a wooden fence beyond a tree line to the south.
The fence marked the beginning of one section of the 2,630 acre county park that bordered our neighborhood. Leigh and I headed toward the fence. A small opening between saplings was barely perceptible to an untrained eye. A path lay beyond the saplings, and a break in the wooden fence allowed us to hop with ease onto the park's trails.
The dogs enjoyed this leg of the hike as we were canopied by trees and followed a small creek to the campgrounds, where boy and girl scouts used the facilities. In fact, I had spent one weekend in a cabin there when I was younger. To create the illusion of an ancient forest, the park service had placed an indian totem pole in front of a cabin.
We found our log under the totem pole, sat down, and poured out our hearts to each other until it was time to return home. The dogs led us home as we dragged our feet behind them.
Leigh and I spent many hours walking and biking with dogs in tow in the field of colorful flowers, picking wild blackberries, running from a garter snake guarding the sapling trees, and sitting under the totem pole talking about our hopes and dreams.
We were 13, 14, and 15 years old and Travis and Muffin were our constant companions on these walks through the woods.
At the time, we talked about God, but we didn't obsess about Him. None-the-less, He was with us. He heard our hopes and desires. He must have delighted and sung with us as we ran after the dogs singing our own goofy songs. How wonderful now to think He was watching Little Leigh and Little Lori grow up, and He knew the plans He had in mind for our lives even then.
As is it happens, it was in our garden of wildflowers that Leigh told me when her dad finished his residency as a doctor they would move from Ohio. We took the news as friends do. We cried and then made the best of it. We continued our talks.
Even today, after all these years, we talk. It may only be a few times a year, but time stands still, and we pick up the conversation as if we were sitting under the totem pole or picking berries to take home to freeze.
For me, joy is a summer day in a field of wildflowers with a friend I love while God watches over us.
Dear Lord, thank you for the joy of friendship in my life.