Not The Park That I Was Expecting

It was getting towards the end of a long summer. We had moved into our new house in the spring. On top of all the usual stress of a move, we were in the middle of a legal dispute and I had my identity stolen. Not just credit card fraud, but my social security number — it was bad.

It was also the time of year where we would get together with some longtime friends that we didn’t see very often anymore. Life had brought us down different paths but we wanted to stay in touch and this was a good time before school schedules started to get crazy.

While I don’t remember what I was in the middle of on a Saturday afternoon, I do remember that I didn’t want to go when Regina, my lovely wife, reminded me that the get together was scheduled for that evening.

I wasn’t in the mood to be social. “Ugh, where is this thing again?” I asked.

She responded, “I don’t know. It’s at a park where they have a stream or something for the kids to dip their feet in.” I instantly envisioned some kind of safe, suburban park. A cement gutter with a quarter-inch of water being funneled down it. Maybe an occasional forest creature statue to add a bit of whimsy. In this day and age it had to be something very controlled and lame to prevent a potential lawsuit, right?

But alas, we hadn’t seen these friends in a while so I sucked it up and started getting ready.

I was so wrong

We drove for about fifteen minutes away from town. Not far at all, but being new to the area, I had never been this far in this direction before. And as I expected when we arrived it looked like a regular park. We walked past a playground and headed toward the pavilion. The other ladies were organizing the food and catching up on each others’ family events and lives.

Poole’s Mill Covered Bridge

The other dads had already taken the kids down to the creek, so we headed down the hill to see what this little stream was all about. I could see a covered bridge going over a wide, still stream — which is always cool. But then I heard the sound of rushing water. It got louder as we got closer.

As we crossed the bridge, I looked out over the stream in delight. All my preconceived ideas were wrong. I saw a kid climbing up two by four slats nailed into the side of a tree leaning over a deep section of the water. He leaped from the branch, splashing down into the water. Another kid sat on the bank with a fishing rod as turtles watched on a nearby log.

Then I saw where the water got shallow and began to weave around the rocks. There were pathways of rocks with people walking and climbing on them. There were waterfalls to sit under, rockslides to slide down, and whirlpools to sit in. It was amazing.

A change of heart

I was in the fastest growing county in Georgia with all its subdivisions and outdoor malls. How was a place like this just minutes from my house? I don’t think I knew it in the moment, but later on I realized that the weight of the previous months’ events were lifted off my shoulders while I was there. Somehow I was reconnected to my childhood and the fun I had growing up with several acres of woods in my backyard. This little get together turned out to be an unexpected everyday adventure that was good for my soul.

We have been back to Poole’s Mill many times since then. I am so thankful that my kids have been able to experience this kind of fun as they have grown up. Setting the technology down for a bit and relaxing in nature’s playground. Learning how to navigate slick rocks. Gathering the courage to jump from the tree. Exploring downstream to see what’s around the next bend.

Those all sound like pretty good life lessons to me, don’t you think?

How to get there

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