Monday, May 27, 2013

Taking It Lying Down

Our family's favorite outdoor place near Boston is Massachusetts Audubon's Ipswich River Sanctuary in Topsfield. Some friends introduced us to it several years ago and we have been back many times since, in all seasons. The Progeny never fail to enjoy their time there. And I never fail to feel great peace while walking the trails through the swamp and forests.

Among the facilities there is a small rustic cabin that can be rented by Mass Audubon members for a nominal fee. We had never done it. In some moment of brilliance last week I called the sanctuary to see if by chance the cabin was available for one night of the 3-day weekend. It was! The Progeny were psyched.

We arrived in the late afternoon yesterday and moved in. Then we went for a lovely hike. The Progeny's favorite place lately is a narrow footbridge over a pond. They each find a stick and then can spend an hour or more just snagging debris from the pond bottom and making little piles on the bridge.

When it got dark (but not completely dark) we took the Progeny for a hike through the woods. We were hoping to see an owl. This was the first time the Progeny had ever been in a forest at night. They were pretty scared. But they each had a flashlight and we held their hands and pushed on.

Along the swamp trail we heard beavers splashing warnings to each other. Then from the Old Stone Bridge we saw a beaver swimming silently across the pond. Wonderful Wife and I thought it was exciting. The Progeny were momentarily distracted from their fear but not for long.

This morning I woke up at little after 7:00 AM and everyone else was still asleep. Unusual. I managed to dress and sneak out without waking anyone. Then I went for hike.

The sanctuary was even more peaceful than usual. I made my way down past the Old Stone Bridge to the platform that was built out in Pintail Pond.

I lay down on the platform and closed my eyes. The view was brilliant red with the morning sun lighting my eyelids. Woodpeckers were performing percussion movements - pecking on different parts of the tree so that the pitch of the pecks covered a range from deep and hollow to high and hard. My favorite birds here, the Redwing Blackbirds, were having their raspy conversations. The doves were cooing to each other.

I found myself imagining the future. I envisioned being with the Progeny, now 7 and 9, as they grow older: graduating college, starting careers, having families of their own. I plan to be around for it. And Wonderful Wife and I have dreams of travel and adventure. We both love to Road Trip. I have to live to retirement so we can enjoy more time for that.

This was just what I needed. Natural beauty always soothes me. And the future with my family is the carrot that I will chase through what is coming.

When I got back to the cabin everyone was awake but relaxing. We had a light breakfast and moved out of the cabin. Then we went on a two-hour hike, including parts of the sanctuary we had never visited before. Amazingly, the Progeny made it without too much complaint. By the end I was feeling recharged.

Renting the cabin really was a brilliant idea.

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