Preface: This has nothing at all to do with running, so if that's why you're here, close the window and move on. We will return to our regularly scheduled programming - at some point.
The last couple of weekends with the kids have been adventures.
Mid-May I took them camping up in the mountains. They had spent a night in a tent down at Jordan Lake last year, but they had never seen mountains before. I wish I had been prepared when I finally got their attention from the mayhem and destruction they were causing in the back seat to point out the scenery ahead of it. I wish I'd had the camera ready. Their identical expressions, eyes the size of saucers and mouths wide open in amazement... it was a priceless moment. Over the weekend, we drove down the Blue Ridge Parkway. The area we were in is at some of the highest elevations along the Parkway, and they were fairly impressed.
They were just as impressed by climbing down to some of the trout streams and playing in the clear, sparkling water. Back at camp, they spent the afternoon running up and down the hills trying to find caterpillars (or as Katelyn calls them, calerpitters) that went into their bug houses. They hunted for snakes and lizards, and we tried to fish - we saw fish but they were barely bigger than the hooks. As darkness fell, they roasted marshmallows over the campfire and made smores (sure beats trying to do them at home on the grill). Noah roasted a hot dog. He no longer eats hot dogs, and really just did it for the sake of doing it. (A special thanks to the group we were with, for being very tolerant of my persistent, talkative little shadows).
This past weekend we went to Hollins, with one of my dearest friends and her three kids. It's the second time I've been back at Hollins for any length of time since graduation: my own reunion was a few years ago, and this weekend was a mini-reunion to celebrate the recent wedding of another dear friend. It was the first time the kids had seen it (more mountains, and the novelty was still there).
We arrived too late for any fun on Friday (at least for the kids), but Saturday when we went back to campus after breakfast, we turned the older ones loose. Now, both sets of kids are used to a fair bit of latitude - at home they each have perimeters around home to stay in. Early in the day we gave them front quad. By Saturday evening when we returned from dinner, we gave them the Hill, where there is a line of houses - the guest house we were in, some used as dorms, some actual residences, and back down to front quad. They chased each other and lightning bugs - around 9pm I took them on a barefoot walk to find more lightning bugs. We went back up the guest house, where there were hula hoops out and we all had a shot at proving how inept we are. Katelyn and I did manage to get a round going, and we both kept it together for about 30 seconds.
Shortly after that, the party moved down to the rocking chairs on the front porch of one of the campus buildings. The kids all came along, since no one was willing to start a fight about bedtime. The porch runs around the entire building, and is mainly painted wood, as any proper Southern porch should be. The kids decided to chase each other around the building. I may or may not have decided this sounded like fun, and thus may or may not have chased them. After that, they all settled into playing hide-and-seek and tag on front quad while all the moms sat in rocking chairs, still catching up.
Some of these moments will mean nothing to the kids - they have no use for adults sitting around yapping, and it means nothing to them. I don't know that it will mean anything to them later in life. Thinking back over these two weekends, I wonder what it is that will stick in their memories - will it be standing on the side of a mountain for the first time, looking out over miles and miles of green valley? Bringing home caterpillars and watching them make cocoons? Running barefoot through the wet grass to catch a tiny lightning bug?
And for Katelyn... she has said she wants to go to Hollins when she gets older, and I got a picture of her standing on front quad this past weekend. If she does end up there, I wonder if she will remember her very first visit to the campus, and what her moments from the weekend will be - the rocking chairs? The post office and our talk there about what I remember from when I was at Hollins? Noah letting her lightning bug free?
My parting thought is that I hope these moments are things they can look back on later in life, and find peace and happiness. And a dream to pass these kinds of moments on to their own children, in their own way.