Turning over rocks -and a few new leaves- with Nolan

Emmitt B. Feldner • forThe Review

EDITOR’S NOTE: Our columnist is missing in action (or is it inaction?), so we’re filling this space with a previous offering.

Sometimes all it takes to entertain a 3-year-old is to turn over a rock.

It worked for me over the weekend with our youngest grandson, Nolan – who won’t actually be 3 for another few weeks, but is close enough for these purposes.

Terry and I have had Aiden and his mother as house guests for the past several weeks as Julia recuperates from ankle surgery. She can’t walk or put any weight on the ankle for the next couple of months, so we’ve doubled the population at our house for a while.

We got a call from Ethan last week asking if we could watch our other two grandsons, Ty and Nolan, for a few hours Saturday afternoon while he was at his monthly Army Reserves drill and Sharon had another engagement.

Ethan suggested we bring Aiden out to their place and we ended up watching the three of them while Ty and Nolan’s other grandparents were busy doing some work on the new bathroom Ethan’s been putting in their house.

Terry quickly got corralled into watching TV with Ty and Aiden was glad to join them, but whatever was on apparently held no interest for Nolan.

Instead, he decided he wanted to go outside and I got dragged along on his adventure.

Ethan and Sharon have about 5 acres out in the country, but Nolan was only interested at first in playing in the sandbox.

As might be expected with someone his age, that only held his interest for a short while and he soon took off on a walk through the countryside, with me following.

After chasing the chickens for a little while – and checking to make sure everything was copacetic in the chicken coop – Nolan took off along the path through the back 40, or at least what passes for the back 40 there.

We had company on our walk, Ethan’s big black dog Tank – fourlegged proof that some dogs do live up to their name.

I was able to keep Tank entertained chasing sticks, although I began to quickly question his talents as a retriever.

More often than not, I’d throw the stick in one direction and Tank would take off in the opposite direction, then wander aimlessly through the grass trying to figure out what happened to that stick.

Or else he’d take off into the brush before I’d even thrown the stick – which saved my arm from too much wear, I have to admit.

I did come to the conclusion that it’s a good thing Ethan and his family aren’t trying to live completely off the land out there.

If Ethan were out hunting game and depending on Tank to retrieve whatever he brought down, I’m afraid we’d have two starving grandsons, not to mention a starving son and daughter-in-law.

Nolan had grabbed a stick that he was carrying along with him, which made it all the more important that I keep Tank occupied chasing sticks, real or imagined. Nolan’s stick was close enough that even Tank could have retrieved it.

Nolan was using his stick to poke into holes in the path and scratch in the dirt along the path. In the meantime, I found a stick big enough to use as a walking stick – something Grandpa needed but Nolan didn’t.

Pretty soon Nolan found a bunch of rocks in the middle of the path and started poking at them with his stick.

At this point, I was just glad he hadn’t found any sleeping wildlife along the path – who knows what trouble he could have stirred up that way and I figured Tank would be of no use to us in that kind of situation.

While most of the rocks were big enough and buried deep enough that they couldn’t be moved, Nolan did find a few that even his grandfather was capable of dislodging – and did, to Nolan’s great delight.

We didn’t find any car insurance commercial cavemen hiding under any of them – they weren’t anywhere near that big – but we did find plenty of wildlife for Nolan to examine.

He soon had his face right down in the hole, checking out the bugs crawling for darkness or a cool spot, along with a few worms looking for someplace to start digging back in.

None of the worms were big enough to make good bait, except perhaps for catching minnows and other bait, but they were plenty big enough to entertain Nolan.

After all the bugs had crawled away and all the worms had dug themselves back underground, it was time for Nolan to move on to the next rock.

We ran out of rocks to move before Nolan lost interest, but he reluctantly returned to the path and we made our way back to the house.

That was when he decided the leaves in the yard were something else great to play with.

Nolan found a rake and had Grandpa start raking the leaves into a pile.

He then grabbed a nearby shovel and had me rake the leaves onto the shovel so he could move them to another spot in the yard to make another pile.

We kept that little game up for some time, moving the same pile of leaves to enough different places that I was beginning to wonder if Nolan was trying to emulate his father’s routine at Army drill.

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