We make the hike up the mountain to find the Fort. Walls built from sticks and string, a fire pit alive with someone else’s fire. We marvel. The boys succumb to ancient rhythms of stick swinging and destruction. We warn them: someone else built this place. It is not ours to destroy even just a little. They listen with awed eyes. They get it. They fall into the underbrush to satisfy their need to pummel.
We are about to leave. We call through the woods for the boys to come back. One of them, my middle boy , is still swinging his stick when he enters the clearing. A bottle of Heineken is ripe for bursting there on the ground, half hidden by a tree root, and my boy’s stick barely breathes in that direction to result in a POP and shattered glass. He looks up with wide and pained eyes and says, “Oh, sorry,” his apology half a question. He’s shocked at his own power and worried at the level of punishment he faces.
“No, honey. It’s okay,” I tell him. I kneel and pick up every piece of glass and wrap the collection in a red checkered handkerchief and store it in my camera bag. “It wasn’t your fault. That beer bottle wanted to burst.” There are times for admonishment and there are times for immediate reassurance.
We start back down the mountain. We’re all tired, and one of us smells like beer.