I kept feeling the pull to hike, but I was so cozy in the white chair with the dog, a couple of blankets, and a wonderful story. And, the rain kept floating in after the sun would finally peek through. As the sky brightened again, I unfurled from the chair and stretched my legs. I put on mismatched wool socks and plodded down the steps. My husband and son rose to join me. As I tied my favorite hiking boots, I heard my son comment, “You know, it’s still actually raining.” I could hear a few drops falling from the sky, but wondered if maybe they were falling from the leaves.
The sky seemed to continue its quest for brightness as we pulled in the parking lot of a familiar, but not recently traveled trail. The three of us set off down the path.
Three. I am still working to balance this number. We are a family of five. We are raising triplets, but so far this summer, two of the three are off on trails of their own. At age 14, one is exploring paths through Europe with her violin and an orchestra of new friends. She is taking pictures and soaking in experiences on her own. The other is with family in Los Angeles, also setting off on trails of her own. The one in LA will be home this week, the one in Europe still has two more weeks.
My momma heart is out of synch with this newness. While there is so much beauty to seeing the world through the eyes of our two adventurers, there is also joy in having one at home to savor. These three have been together since birth (before actually) and one to one time is something we have to be intentional about. It doesn’t happen as much as it should.
So this day, as the three of us took off down the path together-it was different, but also wonderful. I trailed behind my husband and son who bounced, rolled and laughed in to the woods. I smiled as their silliness soaked in to my soul like the rain moistened earth. Maybe it was their contagious joy, but my eyes immediately landed on a splash of purple just off the path. I knelt low to photograph a tiny purple flower with a stunning yellow center. Rain drops delicately sprinkled on its petals. A few more steps, and movement caught my eye-I knelt down to get eye to eye with a bright green frog. A few more steps….and they boys turned to laugh. They were sure we would miss dinner if I continued at this pace. I managed to make it a little longer between stops. They continued their banter, and I continued to notice. At one point my son joined me, hand in hand. He even turned around with me when I worried I had missed an amazing pink flower. I looked. I inhaled the smells of post rain summer-earth, flowers, the microscopic beads of oil being released from the trees surrounding our path. I noticed how the drops of rain in the sunlight looked like someone had opened a jar of glitter and sprinkled it from above. I delighted in how the world reflects in each drop of water. We gasped in unison when we saw a black snake slithering off the path, and then laughed at our response and that I did not stop to photograph it-we are not snake people. We stopped to talk to a couple on the path. We noticed the level of the water, the way it enveloped trees that were once on land. Eventually we ended up back at the car. With moist earth in our boots and eyes twinkling from the fresh air, movement, and laughter.
As evening came, I treasured in my heart not only the images of beauty from along the path, but the laughter. It was different from a silent walk alone in the woods, but equally as precious. Their silliness lightened my heart, and maybe even opened my eyes. My steps and their steps looked different, mine slow with deliberate stops, often. Theirs weaving, slipping, and bouncing along-stopping only to turn and look for me. All three of our paths coming together-hands, arms, lips to cheeks. This is actually a lot like parenting teens, our pace, our steps-especially this summer, are moving differently. We are all joyfully taking it in, in our own ways, in our own places, at our own pace. And yet, our paths come together-via phone calls, or pictures sent, and then eventually upon the landing of planes and the holding tight-hands, arms, lips to cheeks.
I imagine looking from above at the actual prints of our feet, marking the earth today-perhaps each of us in our own color. I would watch the pausing to notice, the laughing, the bouncing, the slipping, the steps. Each marking our own way, with beauty and adventure, back home.