Let’s go to the place where the sidewalk ends

The place where the sidewalk ends - www.alliepottswrites.com A story about a boy and a waterfall and the small differences we make which can add up to a big change.

LT sat on the tire swing in our backyard, alone. His brother had gone to play with a friend leaving LT to amuse himself while his father and I completed our chores. His legs were curled up as they wouldn’t touch the ground even if extended. As a result, the swing was nearly motionless except for a gentle sway with the breeze. I watched as his mouth move and wondered what the conversation he was having with himself might be about. He looked content, but it was a lonely image.

The last of my cleaning could wait. “Do you want to go to the park?” I called out, thinking there might be other kids he could play with. LT beamed, eagerly accepting my offer and soon we were walking down the street to our local playground. LT chattered about things like clouds, giants and other friendly monsters, smiling at everybody we passed along the way. Never once did I have to tell him to hurry up, or stay with me, or explain why he shouldn’t be carried. Who was this child?

a day at the park - www.alliepottswrites.At the park, the sun shone down with only a few clouds breaking up the brilliant expanse of the otherwise blue sky. I settled onto a bench inside the playground as LT climbed up on the play set designed for the bigger kids. “Look at me,” he shouted as he crawled through the plastic tunnel connecting a pair of slides.

I wondered why on earth we were the only ones at the park on such a lovely day. LT went down the larger of the slides. “It’s too hot mommy,” he advised as he reached the bottom. I realized the kid wasn’t exaggerating as I touched the plastic. The equipment might serve as a skillet if it was much hotter. I now understood why the playground was empty.

LT’s brother wouldn’t return for another hour or so. “How about we go on a waterfall hunt,” I suggested. The greenway was not too far away. We just had to go to the end of the sidewalk. LT beat me to the gate.

Raleigh greenway - www.alliepottswrites.comThe temperature dropped a good five to ten degrees (F) as we made our way down the gravel path connecting the trail with the outside world. As always, I felt as if we’d been teleported to some distant place as the canopy of trees stretched out above us. “This way,” LT requested, pointing in the direction of one of his favorite places along the path – a small bridge arching over an even smaller stream.

Leaving the trail, we descended down to the stream below. Large rocks enabled LT to step halfway across where he dipped his fingers into the water at the top of the small falls. “Can a waterfall move?” he asked.

“I suppose it can,” I answered, “but it takes some time to move on its own.”

We ventured further along the stream bed to where the bank was broken up by a myriad of smaller rocks and pebbles. LT reached down and grabbed a handful of dirt. Throwing it into the water, we watched as it dispersed into a ribbon-like cloud as the current took it downstream. LT grabbed a larger rock and this one too went into the water with a plunk, but unlike the dirt, the rock remained in place. You could almost see the gears turning in his head.

“Can you make a waterfall?” he asked.

Raleigh hidden gem - www.alliepottswrites.comOnce again I nodded and soon he was grabbing rocks, twigs, and bits of dirt. The water bulged where LT had added his obstacles, rising over the additional rocks as it rejoined the existing flow. It was hardly Niagara Falls, but it was enough of a difference in height for LT to declare success.

I knew by this time his brother was likely home and would be looking to share his own adventures with us. “Are you ready to go home and tell Daddy all about your waterfall?” I asked.

“But it’s not my waterfall, mommy,” he answered with a smile. “It’s ours.”

“All I did was stand here,” I countered as my heart did a little flip-flop as it tried not to melt.

“But you were here with me,” he replied.

It was a comment that probably kept him from getting grounded for life when he decided to lock himself in his room later that night in protest rather than get ready for bed. Ah, kids. And like that he was once again the child I recognized.

I’ve thought about the stream and our waterfall. He only moved a few rocks, true, but even so, the stream will never be exactly the same. The newly formed eddy, as small as it is, will cut into the stream bed creating new paths for the current to flow. These underwater paths, these series of small adjustments, might go for years unseen but will continue to trigger more changes. Another rock might shift. Another eddy form. Until one day, years from now, someone might dip his or her finger into the top of a waterfall where one did not previously exist – all thanks to LT and the difference he made at the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow, and we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go, for the children, they mark, and the children, they know the place where the sidewalk ends.” – Shel Silverstein

And it will be our waterfall because you were here with me. We’re never as alone as it seems. I know we can move waterfalls. All it takes is to first be willing to make a small change.

56 thoughts on “Let’s go to the place where the sidewalk ends

  1. Do you remember the little creek alongside Glenkirk? I terraformed it all the time. Left to its own, more and more of my property was destined to go downstream. I’ve always been a water nut.


      1. I forget… you’re in So. Carolina or thereabouts? My dear friends just moved to Atlanta. So very sad for me, but probably great for them. Although I’m hearing reports of the bugs…


      2. Raleigh, North Carolina – City of the Oaks. We take our greenery seriously. 🙂

        Our bugs tend to cycle. One year is bad for mosquitoes, another year might be spiders. This year we are to be on extra lookout for ticks.


  2. Gosh, Allie Potts, you’re one deep thinker.
    Not only that, but you’re talented as hell, an exceptional mother and a darn cute human being.
    Thank Dog our virtual paths crossed out there among the vast reaches of the interweb.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi AP,

    The way you structured this story was interesting. A change of a few words and you and LT could have been crossing the continent of Africa or coming out of the Gobi–sand dunes for waterfalls, the Mountains of the Moon as a playground, the walk turning into a journey, certainly plenty of monsters, some even friendly. Being positive is a gift. I wish I had it, but it’s gone. Good luck to you…and your words and photo radiate hope: a state of grace. Thanks. Duke

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, thanks! Some days are easier to remain positive than others. This was one of those days. I hope you find yours again one day. Have you checked under the sofa cushions? I’m always finding the most random things there.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautiful story, wonderfully written.
    I have very fond memories of playing in the woods myself, though it was at a time when we were left alone by adults, our small group of siblings and friends creating whole realms as our imaginations led the way.
    I love the wisdom you find when observing young children and how much one can learn if one’s simply willing to look.
    Thank you for sharing this story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. It sounds like you and I had similar childhoods. Watching my kids now and attempting to see the world as they do, is proving to be an equally fun adventure.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree, the adventure is fun, even if frustrating and/or exhausting at times. I have grown more since I’ve had my children than before they were born, in more ways than one.
        I look forward to reading more of the wisdom you share. My journey is different from yours, but I can always benefit from more wisdom 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      2. My waistline is one of those other things that has grown since the kids were born, but they are still worth it (most of the time 🙂 )

        I am looking forward to getting to know you better too.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Ha! I am always amazed at how some women do it, staying slim after kids I mean. I have had to give out too much energy trying to survive (not all due to the kids, far from it! 😉 ) to have energy for dieting. One day, I have hope, but… still not right now, even though my kids are probably much older than yours 🙂
        And… yes, they are worth it. I am glad for their presence in my life, it makes it more lively (euphemism of the year!). And I’ve also learnt that a little extra weight doesn’t change who I am at my core, and they love me in spite (because?) of it. And others seem to like me just fine the way I am too, so slowly I’m getting to like myself too. Sigh!
        Now you’ve got a little inkling of my journey. I wish it sounded as peaceful as the small trip you took building waterfalls with your son.
        Sorry, didn’t mean to turn all serious.
        BTW… you’ve got a beautiful smile! The sort of smile that lights up a room I’m sure!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. 😊 thank you again! Sounds like you’ve got the right frame of mind. My days aren’t normally quite as peaceful as this one was, which is why I had to memorialize it. I’m not complaining though. It keeps things interesting.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. He is either and old soul or his delayed mobility as a baby helped him develop deep thinking skills. I’m amazed by the stuff he comes up with.

      And thank you, I had a wonderful Mother’s day. I hope the moms in your life had the same.


  5. Children can be incredibly mature and rational at times while still being children. I often think that a child would make a better president than an adult.

    For instance, I’m a fan of Grace VanderWaal’s songs, the ones she writes and sings. Grace is a child prodigy. She won America’s Got Talent in 2016, signed a record contract and went on her first concert tour at age 13 starting this October.

    The lyrics of her songs are amazingly mature and in media interviews, she often blows the interviewers away with her mature comments.

    And wise beyond her years, to remind us that she is still a child, she posts stuff like this on YouTube about wanting strawberries late at night.

    And then she goes on stage and performs one of her own songs in front of a huge crowd of her fans:

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Allie, it was a lovely story and it is the small things in life that are the most precious and the other side of the coin the most annoying 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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