After about five minutes of driving, my sister, Sami and I arrive at Clay Hollow, our favorite piece of woods near our home town. It’s named for the clay that used to be mined here, but now the little stretch of road through the forest is mainly used as a party spot for teenagers. There’s a creek that runs near the road, and this is where we plan to spend our time. There isn’t always water in the creek. In fact, It’s usually dry. It makes a great rocky trail during those times, but the snow has been melting, and it’s filled with water. I park the car in the grass, and we walk down a small hill that leads to the creek. This place is perfect for sitting in silence. The trees block it enough that passing cars can’t really see it unless they look closely. On the other side of the creek is a big rocky shelf with some icicles hanging on it. Sometimes bits of it break off and fall to the ground with a loud noise. There are rocks that aren’t overtaken by the charging water, and these form stepping stones that lead to a big rock platform in the middle of the water.
There is one spot where there is quite a distance from one stone to another. We have to really stretch to reach it. After a couple of seconds of debating the best way to get to it, I have to just go for it and hope I don’t get too wet. I make it across this time, but my sister looks at the distance warily. She saw me do it, but she doesn’t like the odds. Sometimes this sort of thing can really frustrate me about my sister. I love the thrill of a new adventure, but she never seems to want to take chances. Sometimes I wonder how we can be related. In this case, I try to become her cheerleader. “Come on. You can do it! I made it over and you’re taller than me. You can reach.” But she doesn’t listen. Instead, she walks away and I think she’s given up. This happens sometimes, and I always feel so bad for her. I never want her to miss out on something wonderful because the journey to it was too hard. But, sometimes my little sister can surprise me. She walks over to the side of the creek, and picks up one of the bigger rocks sitting there. I watch as she brings it over and places it between the two distant stones. Then she walks right over like there was never any problem.
When we are finally sitting at the stone platform, I start to write, but I can’t help thinking about what just happened. Sami’s already got her mind on something else, drawing in her sketchbook. She doesn’t realize the impact her simple action has had on me. I stop writing for a minute and lie down on the platform. I think about how that instance is a perfect example of the difference between my sister and me. I love to take chances. She likes to be more careful about what she does. Because of that, she can be scared to take risks to get somewhere. But I’ve noticed that there’s always a determination in her eyes. It may take her longer, and she may have to try a few different things, but she will eventually get there.
I can hear the water quickening over the uneven ground and a few birds that have migrated back for spring. Nature. The same nature that helped me realize something about someone I already know so well. I used to always judge my sister based on what I did when I was young. I guess I just figured; we’re sisters. How different can we be? But nature has told me something different. No one is the same. How boring would life be if they were?