A Walk in the Woods

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Around these parts, school is out for the entire week of Thanksgiving. Kids have it so easy these days. Back in my day, we got Thursday and Friday off. That was it. We had to schlepp to school for three whole days while dreaming about turkey and stuffing and all the other gross things people eat on Thanksgiving. And, to top it off, Black Friday didn’t exist. It was just Friday, I think. I don’t know for sure, nor do I care.

What I do care about is that my kids are off school ALL WEEK! On the plus side, though, it does serve as a dry run for winter break when the kids are home for around three weeks or some ungodly amount of time. I wrote last year about how anything goes the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Well, as the official start of Thanksgiving week arrived, I was committed to making this week somewhat less of a free for all.

My plan to fill at least one day? Hiking, of course. It had been awhile since we got rugged. About a month. Since we returned from our mountain adventure. With the slightly cooler weather settling in, I had been itching to get my hike on. There was no better opportunity than Thanksgiving Monday.

The day started poorly. The boys refused to get dressed for about three hours because each of them wanted to get dressed last. I asked seven hundred times why this particular order of operations was so important, but I never got a satisfactory answer. Eventually, though, they came around for some reason and we made our way to this hiking area I had been eying for a few months. It was now the middle of the day and the temperature was in the low eighties, but I figured we might be good for an hour or so.

I was wrong. I’m always wrong. We strolled along the sandy path under the tall, patchy evergreen trees. The sun was warm, but in the shade, the walk was manageable. We spotted a few tiny cacti as we made our way down the path marked with red blazes on the trees.

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The seven-year-old reveled in the quiet of the mini forest. A few hundred yards in, he stopped, closed his eyes, threw his head back, held his arms out to the side, and said, “Ah, let’s stand here and enjoy nature.” And enjoy it, we did. For at least ten to fifteen minutes. Then, the four-year-old got tired.

“Pick me up,” he demanded.

I tried to explain to him that he needed to walk because I was carrying a very important backpack with snacks in it, but he didn’t seem impressed.

“Carry me,” he pleaded.

“OK. I’ll carry you for a minute or two, but not the whole time. We can’t do fun things like this, if you can’t walk on your own for more than fifteen minutes.”

I was the picture of reason. My argument was air tight. I was proud of myself for remaining so equanimous.

“This is fun?” he asked.

I carried him the rest of the time. Overall, it was a very successful outing. Seriously. We killed off more than an hour outside, enjoying nature or whatever. And I got a nice cross-training workout in.

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Afterwards, we headed to a park we hadn’t been to before and the kids spent several hours, until almost dusk, playing on the unfamiliar equipment. Best of all, the train tracks were just yards away, so every time the commuter train rumbled by, all the kids raced to the corner of the playground to get a closer look.

By the time we got home, it was after dark and all that was left to do was eat, watch TV, take showers, and head off to bed. It really is easy to pass vacation days when you have a plan. No matter how poor your plan might be.


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