The little boy kicked his feet, splashing the rock in front of us.
‘Please put water all over it,’ he said. He needed my extra long legs to complete the operation and was pleased when I obliged.
‘Look! Those ones are yellow.’ He pointed to stones submerged by the shallow water. They looked almost golden in the bright light.
We sat on a large rock, hot from the sun, near the hidden waterfall in Penllegare Valley Woods. There were several people at the rockpool – families and dogs. I wasn’t planning to paddle, but I couldn’t resist cooling my feet, especially as one of my friends was already.
As soon as I touched the water, I remembered how much I loved paddling when I was little. Every bit of water we came across – sea, lakes, rivers, puddles – I was the first one in, and sometimes the only one. And then I grew up. I realised how much a faff it was getting dry and putting your clothes back on. Today, I grew back down again.
The little boy had joined me as soon as I sat down. He started pulling at a large stone nearby but it was too heavy for him and so I helped.
‘It’s a heart!’ he said.
‘Oh, so it is,’ I said, turning it in my hands.
‘That looks like a “1”,’ he said, pointing at another.
The little boy got up and looked down at the wet footprints he’d made on the dusty dry rock. He dipped his hand into the water and made handprints. I did too.
‘Mine are lots bigger, aren’t they?’ I said.
He chattered as if he’d known me for years. His mum, who had been watching from the bank in amusement, came to get him eventually. It was time to go. She put shoes and socks on him and guided him across the rocks we’d made slippery with water.
He waved the whole way up the hill, stopping a couple of times to shout something to me. I think he said he’d be there tomorrow and was asking if I would be. No, little boy, I’m afraid not.
It was soon time for me to go too. I took a picture with my friends, followed the route the little boy took, and slipped on my sandals. My feet were dry almost instantly.