Swift Arrow

text by Jonathan Ives

Hiding behind a large red oak tree, I can feel the moisture of the soft moss soaking into my khaki dress pants. I hear the voices of my niece and nephew get louder as they run down the trail, calling out my name. My bright yellow shirt gives me away and they run up to my hiding spot and jump onto my back. By now my wife and two sisters have caught up to us and I take my turn walking with them while the two little ones run up ahead taking their turn to hide from the group. I smile as I watch their little feet beat down the trail, jumping over rocks and roots, gaining just enough distance to dart into the trees unseen. It was a game I had taught them the last time we went on a hike through the woods, and one that I have played for as long as I can remember.

When we were young, my family would explore the different islands along the Maine coast in a large Banks Dory that my father had built. We liked to pretend we were a family of Native Americans exploring each island in search of food and berries. My father was Sleeping Bear and my two sisters were Moon Glow and Princess Punky. I was Swift Arrow. I would run up ahead, find a good hiding spot right next to the trail, and wait for my family to walk past. Once they were down the trail far enough, I would run past them and hear their cries of surprise as I continued in search of the next great hiding spot.

I could hear my niece and nephew giggling as we walked past a fallen log on the side of the trail. “I hear something,” my older sister said, and the woods became quiet for a brief minute before the giggles turned into laughter. The excitement of hiding was too much for them and they jumped out from behind the log. “It’s your turn Uncle Jonny!” they said to me. I accepted their challenge and charged down the trail feeling like a child once again.