Sunday, July 16, 2006

but why are the hills blue?

This morning, more faithful to the command of the calendar than to the thermometer, we packed up and headed off to the Blue Hills Reservation for some hiking. I watched dark patches forming on my shirt as the heat turned an 'easy-moderate' hike into a real workout, and marvelled at the Eldest's ability to bounce around. On steep slopes with loose rocks. Hmm.

We saw little, startled frogs, mosses, fungi feathering fallen logs, orange mushrooms, bright pink mushrooms, dark red and orange striped mushrooms and a sort of albino bluebell that might have been yet another mushroom. And ferns, ferns, ferns. Occasionally, we'd climb above the forest and emerge into a fierce sun and bare rock. And all around the rocks, lining the paths would be the blueberry bushes. But they weren't blue...

Above us, the birds called to each other, while the crickets held forth below. And from us on the trail, the tromping of our feet, the continual chatter of an excited small boy and the burbling of a delighted baby. And the occasional clack as my partner would check his pedometer.
Please note: this is a vast improvement over the days when he'd take any opportunity to check his palm pilot during the hike. I am distinctly grateful to him for the change, and will now publicly note that I am, yes, aware that technology has a siren call that it is hard for the gadgetty at heart to resist. Clearly he has made an effort. Or is it just that the baseball season is over?

To the Eldest's sharp disappointment, most blueberry bushes have only immature green berries right now, but we found some few ripe ones, and I managed to pick a few to eat on the ride home. "I'll save some for you," the little fellow promised, and indeed he did: a single, bright green berry. I thanked him kindly.

A satisfying day, and of course a learning one (hoo boy, have I built character. Wonder when I can stop?). Satisfying, in that I never expected to parent such complex children, but I had hoped to be the kind of parent who took her kids out on hikes and nature walks. Hurrah for fulfilling my own expectations! And learning, well, today's lesson was that both adults must be aware as to the child's needs, depending on the nature of the terrain. We'd been playing man-to-man, but clearly a more flexible strategy is needed, where the adult in front helps the kid down slopes, while the adult behind helps him up them. Luckily, the child is learning to trust his feet, and to move slowly on steep parts of the trail. Except, of course, when he forgets and starts to bounce...

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