Jul 16

Last Baby in the Woods

Summer is here: Blueberries by the bushel. Watermelon dripping down pudgy chins. Sticky popsicle fingers and backyard wading pools. Endless days, bedtime-less days, nowhere-to-go days. Beautiful boredom. And yet the days go fast. Sun up to sun down, we pack as much vitamin D as we can into our sun-starved skin, like squirrels hoarding nuts for the long winter. There is still no time to blog. Play dates and play grounds take precedence. We unpack from one camping trip only to pack up for the next.

TrailsIn the woods, we find the balm for our 21st-century tech-fattened souls. There is no internet. No smart phones, save for the camera feature. Just the crackle of the campfire. The rustle of fir needles overhead. The hum of the RVs a few campsites over. Laughter. Camp songs. Bird songs. The options are fewer. Simpler. S’mores and instant oatmeal and spaghetti. 

Getting Out is harder with babies. There is enough gear to make a simple trip to the park into a bulging-backpack outing. But the forest provides: sticks and pinecones make better play toys than wooden blocks and plastic rings. Dirt is for digging and tasting.

In the woods, children can be children: dirty, wild things. The way they were meant to be. We hike down the trail and identify trees. Mark off Bracken Fern and Huckleberry on our scavenger sheet. Search for animal tracks and scat. Wonder at the simplicity of a spider’s web. 

Clocks are not needed in the woods. There are no schedules. No errands to run. No buzz and beep of tech-overlords. 

In the woods, we find ourselves. We find each other. A dad. A mom. A big sister. A little brother. We are part of something grander. We stand beneath the towering old growth and try to memorize this feeling. The minutia of every day business will creep up again. School carpools and business trips and email and overcast and rain.

But now it’s summer, and there are tents to stake and trails to explore. Time is measured in the slow ripening of tomatoes in the pots out back, in the blooming of new flower bulbs, and the tinkling sound of The Entertainer drifting down the street like the Pied Piper’s tune.

I will count the summer by camping trips. I will mark the calendar by books read. I will find the perfect moment of absolute peace that comes from having nothing to do.

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