The last morning of our camping trip at Kettletown State Park, my son woke up early shouting, “Good Morning,” in a crisp voice, void of sleepiness. My spouse, exhausted from a long summer, slept through this pronouncement as well as his declaration that he desperately needed to visit the restroom. Before leaving the tent, I dressed us both in hiking clothes, figuring a short hike would be a fantastic way to begin our day. I knew better than to hope for anything more than a short hike, since my son had dug his heels in and refused to walk more than a mile or two the last several times we attempted to hike. When I told him of my plan, he groaned so loudly I was surprised my spouse did not stir.
After a stop in at the restroom, we headed to the closest trail. Along we way, my son spotted several worms which had lost their way, getting washed out of the dirt and onto the road. My son, of course, had to stop and say hello to each of them, wishing them all a good day. When he finally said goodbye to the worms, he walked maybe another two hundred meters before sighing heavily and complaining that his feet hurt. I may have agreed to turn around and return to the campsite, if I wasn’t already very familiar with this excuse which translated actually means, “I don’t want to walk. If you make me walk I will complain. Since you don’t want me to complain you must give in to my demands.” I didn’t want him to complain, but nor did I want to spend the morning doing absolutely nothing. So, with promises of a juice box and trail mix (yes, chocolate for breakfast – I was desperate to do some sort of physical activity before the long drive home) I convinced him to walk for ten minutes – ten minutes which I ultimately managed to stretched out to nearly and hour.
Every rock had to be climbed and every tree inspected, so it was at a snails pace that we inched our way through the forest. When we reached a cross roads, I allowed my son to choose our direction, hoping that if I granted him a say in where we went he might have a little more enthusiasm. He did not. Every three minutes he asked, “Can we turn around yet?” And I answered, “Just a little longer.” And just a little longer managed to carry us uphill to a cliff that overlooked the lake. The view was pretty, the silence and serenity spectacular. My son sat down, thrilled by opportunity to rest. Together we watched boats pass on the lake below, and my son made up stories about the dinosaurs who once walked across what is now Connecticut. We sat until my son declared that he was bored – roughly twelve minutes – and then we retraced our footsteps back to camp.
When we arrived back at the tent, my spouse was showered and ready to begin the day. Together we started to break camp. As we started to take down the tent, my son frantically ran around trying to save the spiders that had congregated on the outside. He didn’t want them to get squashed. When we finally packed up the car he said, “I’m going to miss my nature friends.”
“Your nature friends?” I asked.
“Yes,” his voice was laced with sadness. “The worms and spiders are my nature friends.”