Friday, November 20, 2009

River Storm

Michelle Evans

(re-worked for flashfriday fiction)

‘Hey Sophia, want to check out the best swimming spot in the river?’ Eliza asked her friend.
‘Sure, how far is it?’ Sophia’s family had just moved from the city.
'It only takes about five minutes on the four-wheeler, I don’t ride but Joey’ll take us. Joey!’ Eliza called her twin brother. ‘Can you take us to the river on the four-wheeler?’
‘Checked with Mum and Dad?’ Joey asked looking towards the house.
‘Hmm, come inside Sof. Gotta get the OK.’ Eliza ran up stairs.
‘I’ll wait here.’ Sophia turned toward Eliza’s brother. ‘So, can you really ride this thing?’
‘For sure. Been riding for years’. He smiled.

Eliza ran out from the house cheering, ‘Yippee, we can go!'

‘Sof, you can jump on behind Joey, I’ll stand on the back.’ Eliza loved the thrill of balancing on the ledge. ‘Dad reckons a storm will be here in a couple of hours.’
‘You sure it’s OK to go?’ Sophia wrapped her arms tightly around Joey’s waist.
‘It’s way off, Mum and Dad are just over protective’ said Joey as he felt Sophia cling to him.

They rode down the hill, through the lane and over the rough cow tracks in the gully. As they headed up toward the grassy riverbank, the engine skipped, gurgled and then cut out. There was a moment of silence.

‘Joey! Stop mucking around!’ yelled Eliza.
‘Ah, yeah’, Joey’s face turned red.
‘Why’s that needle pointing to the E?’ Sophia dug her fingers into his ribs.
Joey threw an embarrassed smile towards an amused Sophia.

‘Joey, you always check the petrol before we go anywhere.’ Eliza jumped off the bike and under her breath said, ‘something must have distracted you.’
Eliza walked toward the riverbank. ‘Let’s go. We can walk the rest of the way’.
‘What about the bike?’ asked Sophia.
‘It’s not that far, we can walk home and Joey can walk back with petrol later.’ She couldn’t stop her sarcasm.
Eliza wasn’t sure how to take the new found chemistry between her brother and friend. She turned to look towards the dark clouds in the west.
‘What about the storm?’ Sophia followed Eliza’s gaze.
‘Don’t worry, the storm’s miles away,’ said Joey.

‘Wow, it’s steep’. Sophia trembled when she saw the narrow cow track the twins where about to climb down.
‘You’ll be fine, here, let me help you,’ Joey held out his hand. ‘As soon as we get to those trees’, he pointed, ‘there’s heaps of thick vines to hold on to. I’ll go and get some petrol once I get you down there safely. So you won’t have to walk home.’
Sophia blushed.
Eliza rolled her eyes.
Together they slipped and climbed down to the water’s edge. A tall dead gum tree had fallen to create a convenient bridge. Half way across, they sat and splashed their feet in the water. From there they could see down the corridor of the river with deep banks and jungle like trees.

‘Beautiful, hey?’ Said Eliza.
‘Ah ha’, Joey said staring at Sophia.
‘It sure was worth the hike down’. Sophia agreed.
‘Joey, I was talking about the view’, Eliza decided not to think about the possibility of Joey and Sophia hitting it off.
Embarrassed, he jumped up. ‘Race you to the top of that bank.’ And he leaped towards the other side of the river.
‘Joey! What’s with the head start?’ Eliza called. Eliza jumped over the roots of the fallen tree colliding with Sophia who had stopped abruptly in front of her. They both landed on the sandy water’s edge.
‘Ahh!’ Eliza sounded hurt. ’Sof, are you OK?’
‘I’m just a little sandy.’
‘Joey!’ Eliza gasped. ‘Hello! Joey!’
‘Yes, I heard you, Eliza. I’m coming.’ Joey stood hovering over Sophia.
‘Joey! For goodness sake! I’ve done something to my ankle.’
Sophia examined her friend’s ankle, ‘is it broken?’
That seemed to snap Joey out of his trance.
‘Joey, I’m fine,’ Sophia jumped up. ‘Eliza, can you walk?’
‘My… yow, ahh, ankle,’ Eliza tried to stand but fell back down, onto the sand.
‘Sis, we can help you back up the river-bank if we go downstream a little where it’s not so steep.’
‘Lord, help us.’ Eliza prayed. ‘Joey, what about the petrol? How far away do you reckon that storm is now?’
‘It’s a lot closer than last time we looked.’ Joey kept a brave face when the girls jumped at the first sound of thunder.
‘Can you hear that?’ They were nearly to the top of the riverbank when Joey almost dropped Eliza and ran. ‘It’s Dad on the other bike!’ he called back.
Sophia helped her friend hop to the top of the riverbank.

‘Dad! Eliza’s hurt and we’ve run out of petrol,’ Joey raced.
‘I wondered what was up when I saw the bike on the side of the gully.’

‘Here Eliza you sit behind Dad. I’ll stand behind Sophia on the back to keep her secure.’
‘Hold on tight, those clouds are green. They’re broadcasting severe hail storm warnings on the radio, and its coming much quicker than I thought.’ Dad took the bike to top speed.
Lightning flashed, thunder rumbled and down came the rain.

‘Should we keep going? The lightning...’ Eliza jumped as another clap of thunder shuddered around her.
‘Probably should find cover – but the closest is at home in the garage.’ Dad shouted to be heard over roar of the motorbike and the storm.
They held on with fear as the four-wheeler bounced over the cow tracks, through the gully and up the hill. In the distance they could see the open garage. Dad cut the engine and rolled through the doorway safely. They heard the ping of hailstones hitting the roof as they climbed off the bike.
‘Thanks Dad.’ Eliza hugged her father. ‘What great timing.’

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Freedom and Kids

Michelle Dennis Evans

Inspired by my sister’s blog

Kids and their freedom has been on my mind a lot lately. While we are homeshcooling our children are pretty much with us at all times. I grew up on a Dairy Farm where we had 100 plus acres to explore. Our parents set boundaries and we were told the dangers of machinery and snakes etc but we were pretty much free to roam when ever and where ever we wanted.

In talking to many friends who grew up in towns or cities they too had freedom, they would ride their bikes to the shops, to friend’s houses, to the park, to the beach often by themselves.

In both cases parents would have an idea of where their children were but would still allow them to have the freedom.

What’s changed? Is it…

1. Predators? – They were always there but now we seem to be more aware, and encouraged to protect (who wouldn’t want to) our children from the harm of sexual predators or pedophiles.

2. Traffic? – Everywhere is more built up, more roads, faster cars, just basically heavier traffic which means greater danger on or near roads.

3. Lack of community? – Many areas lack community. Too many people are only concerned with themselves and never look out for anyone else.

Do you have somewhere that your children can be free, safe and out of your vision?

We are so blessed as my family still lives on the property I grew up on. My children recently had a two night sleep over, and they played for many hours freely with their cousin (who is farm savvy). That is the older three; my two year old is still kept safe in Grandma’s watch. Mostly I don't worry while they are roaming, if I do start to feel concerned I simply pray and asked for God's covering and protection.

I believe freedom gives children confidence. Our world is changing and we must continue to find ways that children can develop all their skills in healthy environments.