Friday, November 12, 2010

A Veterans' Day walk in the woods

The kids didn’t have school yesterday, and although we didn’t do anything overtly related to veterans, we were all conscious of the significance behind the day off.

For me, it was interesting to see how many of my Facebook contacts wrote posts yesterday in honor of specific people in military service and reminded me that even though my closest circles include few recent veterans, we’re just “two degrees of separation” in myriad directions.

And Holly reminded us several times that we should all be thinking of Great-Grandpa John, Rick’s grandfather, on Veterans Day; he was a World War II vet and was buried with his military medals last February.

What we did do, after a quiet morning during which I worked on an article under deadline, Holly played school and Tim read, was take a short hike around the Fairy Pond in Concord. (I usually call it by the more dignified name of Brister Hill, but as my father pointed out to me yesterday afternoon, it’s not called Brister Hill, which may explain why I’m the only one who refers to it as such. Brister Hill is on the opposite side of the street. So I’ll need to swallow my dignity and call it Fairy Pond like everyone else does.)

Many people close to me, and almost anyone who reads my blog, know of my ongoing quest to get my kids to do more hiking. Sure, they like time outdoors, but usually in the form of playing touch football in the yard or picnicking on the lawn. Getting them to combine nature with exertion is an ongoing struggle.

Yesterday it wasn’t that hard, though. In part, this was probably because I didn’t make a big deal of it. I didn’t insist or implore. I just asked, “Want to go for a walk in the woods? Maybe that trail we did last fall in Concord, where I took the picture of the two of you dipping your walking sticks in the pond?”

They remembered, and they wanted to try it again, though the recollection was also followed by several minutes of debate as to whether the day we went there last year was the same day a park ranger told us we couldn’t walk around Walden Pond with our dog and we also couldn’t walk around Walden Pond while leaving our dog in the car, a rule none of us could understand. (“I went to the woods because I wanted to live canine-free…”)

So we drove to Concord and spent 45 minutes on the trail. The kids found walking sticks again and scampered up the steep hillsides, then slid down on a slippery scrim of oak leaves. We saw ducks in Fairy Pond and a 5-member arrow of Canada geese flying overhead. (“Where are they going again?” Holly asked. As I said, my kids are not exactly precocious as naturalists.)

After the walk, we drove to Bedford for Tim to get a haircut, and then had hot chocolate at Starbucks.

I expend so much time and so much breath trying to get my kids to join me for activities like hiking in the woods of Concord. Yesterday they agreed to do it with very little discussion, maybe because I didn’t introduce the idea with a great deal of discussion – just casually suggested it. And the haircut and hot chocolate underscored, I hope, the idea that going for a hike doesn’t need to be a major or time-consuming or tiring activity. It’s just an enjoyable thing to do on a sunny cool fall afternoon.

At least it was for me. And I hope for them as well.

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