Every now and then I like to use a picture I took or a moment from my life and imagine it as the basis for a fantasy story. This picture is from my neighborhood in Savannah, GA. It was the most nature my son, from Tokyo, has ever seen. And, yes, the little details in the short story below are true to how my 19month son reacted to walking through the woods with daddy.
The prince raced along the line trees, savoring the sound of dry leaves crackling under his feet. It was so different than the sound of footsteps echoing of the stone floors of his keep. It had only been six moons since he had learned to walk, and the uneven ground of the woods thrilled him.
He hopped back and forth between the piles of leaves, kicking at them gleefully. He laughed as a wind picked up a mixture of leaves and straw and sent them dancing through the air. The prince would alternate between sudden bursts of running and several minutes of playing. He was free to make use of his time how he saw fit.
The air was different here. Near his castle, many days journey from here, there was too much city and not enough nature. This type of play would be impossible. True, there were gardens, but those were all carefully cultivated. A scrambled pile of dry leaves and a damp stray would not be fitting for a royal castle.
But out here, near the hunting keep kept by the boy’s family, nature was allowed to do as it pleased. And so was the princeling.
He would run and play. But every now and then a shadow would cross over him. The sudden darkness would startle him, brave as the little boy was. He would look back, assure himself that his father was there. And he was. For though he was king, seeing that his son got a proper introduction to the land was every father’s duty.
And so they walked. Often the child would run ahead. But at times when the woods closed in and shrouded them in darkness, the prince would slow down until he found himself at his father’s side. When the trees and brush came particularly close together the young prince would reach out and take his father’s hand.
The father smiled. He ruled a kingdom and commanded an army. But knowing that his son felt safe with him was a true compliment. He took his son’s hand and let him lead them way.