It took about an hour for the rest of the family to figure out there was more to Hopewell Rocks than mud.
My husband and I met up with my sister and her family, arriving from Georgia, at the famous New Brunswick landmark last week because this is how they wanted to begin their first visit to Nova Scotia in three years. They are a family of nine: two parents and seven children ranging in age from 13 to three; I’m sure our extra hands and arms were appreciated getting the littlest kids up and down the stairs.
When we landed at the bottom, the four oldest made a beeline to the water, only to discover a low-tide expanse of thick, gooey mud. It didn’t stop them; just slowed them down. “These sandals are ten years old,” my brother-in-law, Jason, said to those of us not willing to sacrifice our footwear when he returned to the gravel shore with his crew of kids with mud up to their knees.
Perfect time for a family picture.
While the older kids tried to clean the mud off their feet and flip flops, three-year-old Violet wandered off. We heard a happy screech and when we turned, she waved two very muddy hands at us, her face lit up by a smile.
None of us screeched back. Jason didn’t rush in to scoop her out of the mud nor did my sister scold Violet for getting her hands dirty. We laughed and groaned and knew what was coming as Violet proceeded to play in the mud for 45 minutes.
She fell down on her butt. She wiped hair off her face with her hands. She picked rocks out of the mud and piled them up. She sunk deeper into the mud and fell forward. Her pigtails got dipped in the mud.
“Can I take her picture?” people asked.
I began watching the faces of people coming towards us: At first glance, their neutral sightseeing expressions changed to shock at the sight of a little girl playing in the mud; as they drew closer and saw how happy she was, many of them smiled. One woman drew her clean and tidy son closer to her. I’m not sure what the visitors from China said but they laughed and took her picture.
“She’s going viral,” I told my sister. “In six months, Violet will be a meme.”
She’ll be the face of ‘Find your inner muddy kid’ or ‘When in Canada…’
I believe that most people, seeing a happy little girl who wasn’t concerned about the mud in her hair and on her face and soaking through her T-shirt and shorts, recognized their own long-suppressed inner muddy child.
Older couples stopped to watch. Some people joked about laundry; others mentioned that it looked like fun. Strangers talked to strangers. They shared a laugh. They discovered something even more unusual than those amazing flowerpot rocks.
“May I take her picture?” a woman asked and my sister nodded again. “I have a granddaughter this age and this is something she’d love to do.”
I hope her parents let her.