I’ve always enjoyed a long walk in the woods. Not a deep woods, helicoptered in Revenant style trek. One of my best friends takes trips like that, and I’ll leave him to it. A well maintained trail, devoid of any animals that could potentially rip my face off, is enough for me. Fresh air, nice scenery, and the peace and quiet of nature. If it loops around so that I end up in the vicinity of the starting point, that’s a bonus.
The peace and quiet I no longer get.
My current hiking companion doesn’t seem to understand what either of those words mean, or why daddy so desperately craves them.
Now every exposed tree root is a potential dinosaur bone. Tracks in the snow are proof that they are in the area. There will be a minimum of three times that she trips and falls and at least two arguments about which way to go. Every rock is a mountain to be climbed and photographed. There’s often singing.
I’m speaking of the four year old, of course, not my wife. My wife knows that the dinosaurs are extinct.
The first real “date” that we went on was a hike. I got us madly lost in Mohegan Park, a scenario that has repeated itself often over the years, both on trail and roadway. We learned more about each other in those four hours than on any Thirsty Thursdays out with our co-workers. We used to go out walking with the teenager fairly often, but like most things family related, she now has more important things that she needs to be doing.
For now the four year old still likes us, so we try and get her outside as much as possible. The hope is that it’s an activity that she continues to enjoy as she gets older. Something that she looks back on fondly. To her these aren’t walks in the woods, but epic adventures. I’m constantly in awe at both her imagination and her ability to adapt her perception of her surroundings to reconcile it to what’s really going on.
Taking advantage of the strongest el nino weather system in a decade and the weirdest winter I can remember, we spent a good portion of last Sunday dinosaur hunting in Old Furnace State Park. Even with a bright pink sweatshirt and hat, she was convinced her camouflage pants would be enough to remain undetected if we spotted some.
The truth is that we weren’t going to be sneaking up on anybody or anything. It was a great hike, but neither peaceful or quiet.