A weekend in the woods

October 12, 2015

It’s rare these days that we get a weekend with absolutely no obligations. At the start of the season, we made a very deliberate decision not to sign up for soccer or lessons or anything that would keep us from enjoying autumn as a family. The girls are young and don’t hate us yet, so it seemed like the right thing to do. But so far, between work picnics and birthday parties and various celebrations of various things, we haven’t assigned our own agenda as much as we’d hoped. But this weekend, the calendar was all clear.

I’ve made no secret of my healthy obsession with Cheryl Strayed. I love her story, her trek, her real, badass vibe. I think every female should try to tap their inner Wild woman, and, while I do make a small effort not to shove my own life goals onto my girls in case their dreams are drastically different from mine, which would be fine, I do attempt to foster only habits I would be OK with them adopting as well. So, when Hank suggested we head out for a hike Saturday morning, the chicks genuine hype factor and giddiness made my heart swell with satisfaction.

It couldn’t have been a better day for a walk in the woods. Sunny, sixties and a feast of fall colors dangling from the trees. The leaves were raining down upon us like the last few feathers in a staged pillow fight, and I recognize the drama I’m implying when I declare the memory, “magical” but I stand by it. The girls have been particularly catty lately, so the peace and simple pleasure of our pilgrimage was a welcome reprieve.




It amazes me how JoJo comes alive in these situations. She’s a satisfaction and approval seeker for sure, and I don’t know if it’s that she recognizes it brings Hank and I joy to see her in that sort of scenario, or that she truly just thrives on the trail, but she tromps around and summits and scales like a champ. Spike, too, blew me away. Last year she would only make it about .5 mile before tapping out and climbing on Daddy’s back, but we were out for a good 2 hours, and her little legs held up and made her one proud little peanut.



The thing about being in nature is it reminds you how small we all are. The high water levels and storms in the Midwest over the last year brought down quite a few trees, which meant an impressive, intricate display of roots around every bend in the path.

“Mom,” JoJo said, “I think the bigger the roots, the older the tree.”
“That’s right.” I said.
“These smaller trees are still strong, huh? I think it’s kind of sad that those old trees aren’t standing anymore, but at least we have these baby ones and they can be here for a long time.”


We spent the entire morning trekking around downed trunks and limbs. We searched for the reddest, orangest and yellowest leaves and moved in and out of the sun striking through the protective canopy. It was the most wonderful thing we’ve done together in weeks. As parents we sit here and drive ourselves crazy questioning what we should be saying to these little people. But maybe what we show them and where we take them is a bigger part of the puzzle.

On Sunday, Hank had some pre-hunting season tasks to check off, so the gals and I had the day to ourselves. What did they want to do? Take Uncle Map to the woods so he could see the fallen trees. And so, we did. Two mornings on the trails and I honestly think it reset the funk that had fallen over all of us. I feel rested and reconnected to the people in my home and, honestly, other than the blister on my left foot, everything is looking like roses for a hot second here. I’m just going to let it ride.





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