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Lightning in a Bottle: A Chronicle of Wonder

Entries in Hiking (2)


Alone, Together

I'm always making peace with the fact that in parenting, "perfect" isn't a realistic option, no matter how well-intentioned we may be.  

Let's face it; there are plenty of days when "pretty good"—should we manage to reach that lofty summit—passes for a rousing success.  And sometimes, in our household filled with two spirited siblings, we most readily achieve the station of "big happy family" by splitting up. One child and one parent, two separate activities.

Choose your tongue-in-cheek euphemism: Man-to-man defense. Divide and conquer. Lord of the Flies.  I prefer the kinder, gentler vernacular of the Parent Encouragement Program: Special Time.

Call it what you will, when used judiciously it's a surefire way to defuse sibling rivalry and strengthen parent-child bonds at the same time.

So it happened that our family recently had such "special time" outings on successive Sundays, Bliss and I alternating afternoons with Thoreau and The Bean.  And it also happened that I took both of them to the same place—Great Falls Park.  It's an incredible sight, where the Potomac narrows and falls spectacularly just a few miles upstream of Washington, DC.

The Bean, as you can see, was especially fascinated by the kayakers challenging the rapids below:

And Thoreau loved the view from atop the rocks above the river, spotting vultures and ospreys and other assorted migrating birds:

But here's the wonderful thing: they both made the day completely, unselfishly, their own.  And, seeing it through their eyes, I got to see it all for the first time again—and twice, at that.



Life Is But a Stream

It had all the makings of a lazy Sunday, this first day to catch our breath after slipping back into the stream of school days, homework, ballet classes and soccer games—a stream whose currents can be unexpectedly strong, carrying you through days, even weeks, before you realize it. 

But this afternoon we decided to get out and get moving—just, perhaps, not too quickly.  Thoreau and I walked to the wooded park less than a mile from our door and enjoyed a quiet hike along the stream there, seeing ducks and deer, sunfish and water striders.  

And, best of all, we took some time away from all that doing just to enjoy being.

One last hurrah for a summer filled with tide pools and fireflies that faded all too fast.  

Merrily, merrily, indeed...