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by Susan Kramer
For the beginning of winter it was a mild day. Gray clouds scudded by and garden trees flapped their branches like wings. That was the twins' view of outside while eating breakfast at the table next to the front window of their village home. Since they were on winter holiday from school they decided it was the perfect day to ride their bikes into the Dunes National Park along the North Sea.
The dunes are huge sandy hills planted with shrubs and trees, forming a rolling line of defense against high tides and storms coming in from the southwest gulf stream or the arctic. With ponds scattered throughout, wildlife abound with varieties dependent on the season. Now there were black birds, robins, mockingbirds, Jackdaws, and ring-neck doves flying and settling at different levels in the trees. Small herds of Exmoor ponies and Scottish Highland cattle munch the grass and bushes, keeping much of the forest in low-growing plants. Park rangers maintain winding trails, main pathways marked with signposts and laid with a herringbone pattern of thick bricks all the way to the beach.
Packing for the ride they included a map listing the paved trails, just in case they got disoriented on this cloudy day. Ma prepared bread, butter, and cheese sandwiches, and included mandarins for their packs, and they carried full water bottles, a tire repair kit, and mobile phone. Donning warm jackets, hats, gloves, and scarves Anneke and Hans biked into the forest in late morning.
It's fortunate they included a mobile phone for hardly had they entered a dense stand of birch than they heard crying. Stopping they looked at each other to see if they'd both heard the sound, and then they heard moaning from the side of a thick bush near the path. Quickly they determined that a boy had skidded off the damp brick path and tumbled over his bike into sea buckthorn. Leo seemed about their age and sobbed that he might have broken his arm. The twins carefully helped him to his feet. Anneke arranged her long scarf into a sling for his arm. Hans pulled his bike out of the bushes.
Anneke realized that Leo needed help to get home. All three would need to walk their bikes back to the village. After voicing this plan Leo calmed down, took a drink from Hans' water bottle and slowly the trio made their way the mile or so to Leo's house. His mother was glad they had phoned ahead and learning more of the story felt thankful someone had come by and helped him. She went out to start the car and the twins watched Leo and his mother head off to the family doctor.
Anneke and Hans each thought about how good it felt to help Leo. They decided that since it was now early afternoon they would eat their picnic at a nearby canal and playground. Tomorrow would be soon enough to continue exploring.
That evening, while Ma and Pa listened to the twins talk about their adventure, they heard them expressing a mixture of happiness and disappointment: happiness that they were able to rescue Leo, and disappointment that they had to cancel their plans to further explore the forest that day.
Pa praised the twins for helping Leo, because he needed them more than they needed to have fun. Anneke and Hans agreed that doing what was for the best, even if they must change their own plans, gave them a feeling of doing what was right.
children in this story live in my mind and heart.
The author, Susan Helene Kramer, has been teaching people of all ages and abilities meditation, yoga and dance for more than 30 years.
and Hans went to school
Anneke and Hans and the Forest Adventure copyright © 2018 Susan Helene Kramer
of photograph of common sea buckthorn by Stan Schaap
Home Page http://www.susankramer.com
Dutch translation of other stories in the series