Owen and I took Coraline and Ben hiking at The Rock last weekend. A beautiful spot to climb with tremendous views at the top, it has long been a family favourite. On this particular day, the sun was shining, the temperature was perfect and our moods were high. Both kids insisted on carrying their snacks in their own backpacks and Owen carried our water and food so I was able to walk unencumbered, a rare treat for a mother of two young kids to be sure.
As we climbed to the top, knowing the views that awaited us, our spirits soared.
We stopped several times along the climb to the top, to examine a particularly interesting caterpillar or to search a nearby tree for the familiar call of a bird. About 2 minutes in, Coraline asked for her snack. In no particular rush, we ambled our way up. It had rained the night before so there were several puddles that needed jumping in. At one point we came across a large puddle or a small pond that had some perfectly placed large rocks across it and an old log laying beside it. Crossing our way over the water made Coraline and Ben feel like little adventurers. I was reminded of an old sketch of Winnie the Pooh, piglet and Christopher Robin tightrope walking across a log on a journey through the Hundred Acre Wood.
What struck me was that although they were eager to complete the climb, the kids were present to each detail along the way.
When we made it to the top of that magnificent granite outcrop, we sat on a rock and ate our snacks. There were others moving about and we watched as they took their pictures and marvelled at the view. One group looked fondly at our children and told us that their own children were grown and moved out but that they used to take group outings each year to a nearby apple orchard. It is lovely to see strangers admiring our children and basking in the memories drawn out of the corners of their minds. After a time we decided to head back down. Along the way, we came across little patches of soft, tall, wheat coloured grasses growing out of the rock. When we did, Coraline and Ben would run through them, hands outstretched, giggling at the sensation. The grasses would’ve been just past my knees and so were tall enough that if they were thicker, the kids could’ve hid in them. They loved coming across these surprise patches and would run through them with glee and abandon each time. Once they finished and moved on to the next thing, I would turn and quietly thank the grasses for being there. As I did so, it occurred to me that experiences like this would come again and again – that we could take our kids anywhere in the world, but it would be up to them to find the beauty and joy.
We can expose our children to beauty but way they experience it will be entirely of their own making.
I was grateful for that morning atop The Rock. Was reminded of the importance of taking one’s time, of looking, and of appreciating what we see when we take the time to look. We never know what we’ll find. Even our dog, Scout, made a wonderful discovery: a dead toad (the stench of which came home with us as a souvenir courtesy of her canine instincts).