Take a Walk on the Natural Side
There is something therapeutic about leaving the chaos of the concrete jungle and momentarily escaping into the quiet of nature. I rediscovered this feeling on a small getaway with my baby sister recently. In my attempts to cool off from my own day’s stress, I decided to take her to a gem I knew about, somewhat hidden behind a cemetery. It was a cozy little spot her and I had shared once before and she had come to cherish. Except, this visit was slightly different. This time, we found remains of a campfire that had been put out not too long before our arrival, at the top of the hill. It should be noted that fires of any kind are not allowed on the hill. Instead of leaving this as a negative sight, I decided to take this opportunity to make something inspiring and beautiful with my sister. I suggested we gather flowers to lay around the burnt logs. She was more than eager to comply.
As I gathered these flowers with her, an older man noticed us. He engaged in some small talk and expressed his disappointment in today’s teens and how it was a shame that kids would disrespect the land in such a manner. He obviously noticed the empty boxes of beers left by what he had guessed came from teens just being teens late at night. As he stood over the burnt wood, he shared a bit of the history of Signal Hill, CA. He taught my baby sister and me that the Indian tribes who once owned this land used this hill to signal to Catalina Island various messages or signals of warning. He then continued to enlighten us about a hidden little trail that leads into Long Beach’s water reservoir where more specific information about the tribe and the history of Willow Springs Park could be found. As he went on his way to continue his day, he left with what seemed to be a smile. Could he have been touched in some way by the flowers we had laid? Who’s to say? But I like to think so.
Having felt a sense of accomplishment after completing our circle of yellow daisies, we decided to discover the history behind Willow Springs for ourselves. We made our way around the hidden passage and found the educational boards on the land’s history. This was a moment in time I wanted to truly take advantage of. I saw the opportunity to take learning history into the real world. I felt that this mini hike together could help mold a memory that would spark an interest in education. Heck, I figured that this small moment shared between us could inspire her to investigate the answers to any question she has in life.
During this hike, not only did she practice her reading skills, she learned the history of Signal Hill and discovered how irrigation works in our city. Making our way to the Long Beach water reservoir, she even was able to learn about some of the local wildlife and discover a composting facility. In my efforts to help further my sister’s education and curiosity, I found myself learning many new things as well. I had never known the history of Signal Hill, or the tribe that inhabited this land before it became the city of Los Angeles. It was a wonderful feeling to experience this spark in curiosity within myself. One thing for sure is that this little girl is an adventurer at heart and isn’t afraid to get down and dirty. She had a blast following the water trail, getting muddy and catching glimpse of the local wildlife.
After savoring this hidden gem of history in the backyard of our city, we finally decided to make our way back up the hill to continue our project of inner peace. We both truly just wanted to create a space people could pause and reflect act. Our small circle of yellow daisies seemed incomplete and somewhat naked. So we decided to add some color and structure to our circle of peace. With our intentions set, we scavenged our surrounding and savored in our masterpiece together. Her pride in her work showed. I even caught her taking after me for a brief moment and she laid on the floor to take a stab at her photography skills. She even posted that photograph to her Instagram account. It was the cutest thing to witness. My heart melted as I realized that this moment and my efforts here are truly making an positive impact.
We shared a great conversation that day. One that only strengthened our bond as sisters. It was nice to share a moment with her as a sibling instead as a parental figure. Here I wasn’t worried about getting her any time of specific treatment or care, there was no lesson to stress or important lecture to share. It was a moment I shared with my baby sister in which I got to be just that — Her Big Sister! We got to just chat and share that much love “girl-talk” anyone who has a sister can understand. I got to share my insight and stories on life. I got to share my knowledge with her as more than just a sibling; we had the opportunity here to connect also as friends.
Why it seems like something so mundane in a typical family’s dynamics, in mine…it is something I truly cherish. And in keeping in line with my New Year’s Intentions of coming from love and the intention to grow as a person, I am making the effort to take my siblings out on more minuscule moments like this. It is my hope that in these memories made, they will be molded into humans that will also inspire and lead others into brighter days.
That night, my baby sister slept over. The next morning she had requested to visit our circle of peace again the next day. And in fact, the next day, that is just what we did. This time we brought the company. Our fur companions (my two fur babies) Butters and Jill. As we made our way to the top of Willow Springs Park, the energy in my bumbling bee of a sister was buzzing with excitement. She felt like she truly made an impact in others lives as she ran up the hill screaming, “It’s still here! Look, no one messed with it!” Upon reviewing the peace circle we made, I noticed how the winds had embedded our work into the earth ever so slightly. The flowers had withered and dried under the heat of the day’s sun and had flattened along the sands. This mere moment in time blessed me with the beauty of gratitude for the role I am blessed to play on the stage of my life. I stood back watching my sister interacting with this spontaneous work of art with nature and realized that she wasn’t the only person savoring emotions on a grander scale. Just beyond her were others visiting this site and pausing to look at our circle of peace.
What was so serendipitous about all of this was that I felt like I had passed down a piece of myself — however brief the moment may be. I may never know what fragments of this memory will last into her adulthood. She may also never truly understand how much this day meant to me. My siblings may never truly understand how minuscule moments like this impact my outlook in life as a “surrogate-parental-figure” and also help mold the ways I choose to take on future moments of stress or education whilst co-parenting them. It can be easy to feel the lines between feeling like a sister and a “surrogate-parent” can easy get blurred. While I feel the safety of speaking freely as a sibling through the sisterhood bond we naturally share, within those moments are complex thoughts embedded within the depths of my mind in which I reflect on the moment as if my baby sister were a daughter. I cannot deny I have a strong instinct to protect her, fight for her, and advocate for her in any way that I can. In some way, I want to mold her into a strong love warrior. I have no doubt in my mind that as we continue to share memories of this manner, strong values are being developed within her. Call it a “sixth sense”. Knowing that my time and efforts with her can impact her in some major ways is worth all the struggles I go through fighting an uphill battle in life to keep from falling apart in my own struggles. Family is definitely something I love to live for — regardless of the days it can get to me and I may complain. They are my world.