Monday, August 27, 2007

In A Hardwood Forest

This past weekend we took our children into the Green Mountain National Forest Moosalamoo Wilderness Area for one night of camping. It was our maiden camping voyage with the kids and it was a tremendous success. Back in our pre-child years Mrs. Agricola and I used to camp out on occasion and we're not unfamiliar with the joys of sleeping in a tent, and living en plein aire.

We purchased a roomy tent at a summer clearance sale, bought each kid a sleeping bag, that Child Two calls his "hammock," and a nice little camp stove. We met another couple and heir daughter at the campsite and after setting up camp and getting stowed we went to the Robert Frost Interpretive Trail on VT-125 for an easy hike through the woods and the blueberry fields. It was a scorching day and we waded in a river to cool down. We found a snake skeleton, saw a huge caterpillar and ate wild blueberries, blackberries and raspberries that we found along the trail.

Child One is a little nature lover -- much more so than her parents -- and she really seems to be in her elements while walking along a forested path. She'll touch bugs, flowers, sticks and rocks that she spies along the way -- she's very observant with a great eye for detail. Child Two rode in a child backpack, hanging out from under the sun shield like a little train conductor, commenting on the passing spectacle. We got back to our car just as a giant mountain thunderstorm came crashing down us in a fierce, lightening-filled deluge.

Things cleared up quickly, though all night distant heat lightening flashed across the sky and small bursts of rain continued to patter down us -- though I'm not sure if it was drops from trees or actual showers. Before dinner we found a red eft -- which is a newt in the terrestrial phase of its life. We ate a delicious meal and the kids darted around the campsite, playing pirate, jumping off a log and watching the fire we had roaring in the site's pit. Bed was easy, and the kids drifted off into a good sleep as if they'd slept in a bag in a tent their whole lives.

After a huge breakfast on Sunday morning we packed up, walked across the Goshen Dam, threw rocks into the Sugar Hill Reservoir and then spent some time in Middlebury before returning to the Quarter Acre. It was an amazing experience and we had a blast. It was so wonderful to see my kids just reveling in their surroundings, getting dirty, playing imaginative games with nothing but sticks and some chalk and crayons that were brought to the site. With no TV, no electricity, none of the comforts of a house, they were completely at ease and enjoying themselves.

It was moving -- almost to the point of being beyond words. I saw my children in a new and different light and love them even more than I did before we left (as if that were even possible). They amaze me, all the time, in so many ways that each day is a wonder. But with every little moment of wonderment comes a tinge of melancholy that each new experience marks a first and a last. Time is fleeing and my babies are growing up before my eyes. I think that my children have helped to make me more aware of my own humanity -- and with that deeper awareness has come a greater sense of my own mortality. In my children, and in the accretion of events that comprise our life together comes the sense that there isn't enough time and that there never will be.

It's beautiful. It's sad. It's wonderful. It's life in the best sense of that expression. We sucked the marrow out of our time in a hardwood forest, away from the distractions of the modern-American-suburban-life. We emerged a more tightly knit, happier family.


Still here... said...

You're such a dad, Agricola. I hope your kids will remember outings like this when they get older.

Agricola said...

Me too!

Matt said...

I bet your re-entry into MA was like a comet hitting Earth's atmosphere. Getting cut off by giant Escalades with Dora The Explorer playing on the in-vehicle DVD player so the little spoiled brats in the back could be distracted from one errand to the next.

You, your kids, and society are better off because of your trip to the woods.