Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Tuesday Morning Hike

:: Tuesday Morning Hike ::

No school, good weather, husband home, and three kids with some energy to burn off were exactly the ingredients needed for a morning hike in a new park. It was one close to our home and maintained by our county. The children always start every hike with a million questions: "Where are we going?" "How far is the trail?" "Is this place going to be fun?" "Will we get to jump in some water ?". This myriad of questioning is followed shortly by the obligatory complaint time of the trail being hard or the wind blowing too much. I just keep walking and try not say very much as the chattering next to me begins to settle down. Each children finds a rhythm of quietness and a pace of walking which helps assuage all of the questions, complaints, and worries. I know it takes time to get into the walking rhythm, that place where there are no distractions from electronic devices or toys. They fall into that pace quicker each time we go out to the woods. The world melts away and we are able to focus on the leaves on the trees, the dirt beneath our feet, and the chirps of a little bird in the wood. They are able to see the world in all its splendor and beauty. Every little flower or unfurling fern is new to them and they take it in with unbridled attention. 

The girls walk ahead making up games and pretend scenarios about wild animals or rainstorms. James walks in the middle keeping pace with the girls but not far ahead as to leave the little man and I behind. We bring up the rear because his legs are shorter and his pace slower. He is only two years old after all and there are rocks to pick up, puddles to stomp in and leaves to grab. We just walk slowly and quietly along the gravel crunching beneath our feet and the wind blowing the tree above our heads. For the all the ugliness that is in the world this is my happiest time and place. The walks through familiar and foreign woods. We discover new things and talk about what is happening in this moment. This walk had us splash through two streams, up and down a hill, watch a wild turkey fly off into the brush, and find a pretty meadow. Our oldest spotted an old chimney and foundation with what she called ancient glass. I don't think that glass is ancient and the fireplace looks functional so my bet is that some teenagers sneak out in the dead of night to test the boundaries of adolescent freedom. But I just let her believe it because she is observing and just being. 

I have learned not to control these walks or fuss if they get just downright dirty because they are being children and play is hard, dirty work. You can call it the negative ions of the forest or the removal from the busy world but the woods just make everything alright like a warm blanket to comfort you on the cold night. It is a gift of freedom that I want to impart to my children. Our responsibilities and duties can weigh heavy on our backs but a walk in the woods can lift that weight off even if just for awhile and let us be. 

I think by now if you read this blog with any regularity or not (which is fine too) you will know that I am deeply passionate about the natural world. I am rubbing off on my children because my oldest loves the outdoors. (Today, she also said rather loudly that the man across the street did not love the environment because he was cutting down a tree. We quickly had a chat about trees and how to care for them. We are working on it!) Anyways, I love the outdoors. While on a recent hike my husband  and I were talking about how I could get others to come out and try some walking with their children. So, I have decided to start a group. If you are local to me and would like to get yourself and/or your children out of the house this summer, join me! If you live far away and you love the outdoors too then start your own group. Even if you are hesitant about being outdoors on trails, give it a try. I have raging allergies and I still take on the pollen (armed with some allergy medication). 

"The mountains are calling and I must go" 

- John Muir 

1 comment:

  1. when the kids were little we would go to the state park for a "hike" and then maybe a picnic. I have fond memories of our hikes and explorations. There was a place where they'd stop at the creek and flip rocks looking for salamanders (and they always found one or two). Magical!!