If there comes a time in a person's life where they grow tired of looking at trees, I haven't yet reached that time. We spent the 4th of July weekend at Lake Anna with Will's dad and stepmom and with the weather a little on the cool side for staying long in the water, we ended up spending more time than usual amongst the trees. Although it's one of my favorite things to do, we really don't do much hiking these days because 1) Every time we utter the word "hike" or "walk" in front of Tommy, he immediately gets a disgusted look on his face and says something along the lines of "I don't like hiking" and 2) Annabel refuses to sit in her backpack at this point and unless we want to eventually just carry her, we can't go very far. And so these days we've sort of accepted the fact that hiking isn't something we'll do on regular occasions but instead just occasions. While normally I'm ok with that, all it takes is a weekend of more-than-occasional-hiking to get the thought stuck in my head.
Over the course of a few days, Will and I, the kids, and PaPa and Jean hiked a total of about five miles - pretty good for a boy who doesn't like to hike (even though he sorta does - he just doesn't want to admit it) and a girl who has to take twice as many steps as the rest of us to keep up. Our walks were rather on the noisy side and pretty slow as we stopped many (many) times to pick up sticks and fill pockets with rocks and spot every "elbow" and "Y" and "V" tree in the woods, and we all had a (mostly) good time, got some exercise and sunshine, and made some happy memories. On Saturday, while Annabel was taking a nap and Tommy was otherwise occupied with PaPa and Jean, Will and I snuck away to do a five mile hike of our own over the rolling hills and down by the lake and past an old homestead. We spotted a few deer, heard a wood thrush singing in the trees, and had a quiet conversation or two. But mostly we walked quietly, each lost in our own thoughts or maybe just listening and looking and taking it all in. Even if we don't say it, I know we each go back to our days on the Appalachian Trail in our minds when we spend any amount of time in the woods. I like knowing what he's thinking even when we don't mention it out loud.
Once we got home, I decided to keep walking even if it wasn't in the woods. So on the nights when it was Will's turn to put the kids to bed, I headed outside to do a three mile loop around our pretty neighborhood as the sun set in the distance and the moon shined brighter and brighter. It's not a path through the trees, but I've spotted a few deer, heard a wood thrush singing in the trees, and walked quietly, lost in my own thoughts and then just listening and looking and taking it all in.
And for now, that's enough for me.