Monday, November 30, 2009

A Girl in the Pines

"Teaching children about the natural world should be seen as one of the most important events in their lives." -Thomas Berry

When my brother and I were kids, the vacations we took were the ones we could reach in the silver Ford Taurus wagon. We saw the Black Hills, Mount Rushmore, the Corn Palace, The Mississippi Headwaters, Wisconsin Dells, The Rocky Mountains, Wall Drug, Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. In other words, we were typical Midwesterners. Of any of these memories, the BWCA family camping trips stick out in my mind as the best. My Dad encouraged both of us to keep journals- I couldn't have been more than seven years old when I began writing in my cloth-bound book, citing such events as, "saw big moose turds, a bald eagle, and ate pancakes for supper," but the act of observing and writing nature around us was so simple and inspiring. On those trips- there was no electricity. No TV, phones, handheld gaming devices, elaborate toys. It was kid, dirt, water, rocks, sunshine. I'm grateful for that influence in my life- and today, as a mother myself, I am fully appreciating what my Dad encouraged in me all those years ago.

Friday afternoon we packed up the lil' dude and dog and headed for the woods- to the 80 acres my Dad's pride and joy is- to the little log cabin nestled amongst the big trees. There- like the days spent on the shores of Kawishiwi Lake as a child, I smell my sleeve recognizing the scent of firewood, read books by the lantern light, construct puzzles on the floor, listen to guitar music, polka for breakfast, and snack on popcorn and cocoa before sleep. And true to form, there sits a cabin journal, encouraging guests to write about who they are, what they did, what they saw, encounters they made while on their visit. I took the journal to the front porch in the morning, steaming cup of coffee in hand, and remembered everything.

And the lil' dude? Loved every minute spent at her Papa's cabin- and we were completely unplugged. There isn't even any running water! She slept all night in between Daddy and Mama- stretched out in a giant X, arms splayed across both pillows. When she opened her eyes Saturday morning, she looked out the window, taking in her surroundings, she saw the four-wheeler. RIDE! she squealed, so out they went. We are so lucky to have no reason to not get out into the woods- where decades and decades and tradition will be spent making the best of memories.

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