This summer, we have not roamed very far afield. We’ve barely roamed past our zip code. With Ian and Hugh both working, we must now juggle the work schedules of four people.
This represents a huge change in family life. Don’t get me wrong: we’re thrilled that the boys are earning money, but boredom and ennui were setting in. Only Malcolm is free as a bird, all day, every day.
So, needing to do something special, we booked a canoe trip down the Brandywine River yesterday. Hugh and Malcolm grumbled. They didn’t want to leave their friends. We suggested they invite their friends. No dice.
Ian had to lifeguard, so it was just the four of us. We went to the outfitters, signed the forms, and watched the safety videos. Our favorite part? When a female sheriff pulled a couple of female paddlers off a stream and made them walk a line in their Keens on the riverbank. The women stumbled and flunked. Did you know you can be arrested for PUI? Don’t drink while canoeing!
Then it was into the van for transport to the put-in spot. And we were off. With one boy in the bow of each canoe, Chris and I steered. I waxed nostalgic about the time in Girl Scouts when my friend Louesa and I did a 60-mile trip down the Current River – in bright silver reflective aluminum Grummans. Burned to a crisp, we nevertheless had a blast.
Gradually, the river worked its magic. Being in nature, far from the usual screens, bings and bongs of technology, was calming and restorative. Instead of getting excited every time a text message came in, we got excited every time we saw a fish jump. Giant herons flew overhead, with their odd curved necks and prim skinny legs and long feet. Hugh and Chris tried a big rope swing. Our sandwiches-and-seltzer picnic was delicious. The historic farm across the field seemed untouched since Revolutionary War times. Chris said the wooden fence lacked only a redcoat, slumping.
Back in the water, switching up our teams, we rounded a bend and saw a cluster of canoes…a boy walked through the river….he was holding something. Everyone seemed riveted. Getting closer, we could see the boy was holding a large fish. “How did you get that?” Hugh called. “An eagle dropped it!” was the answer. The boy brought the fish over for our inspection. Clean puncture wounds from talons had done the job. My question was “Why did the eagle drop it?” It seemed like the perfect lunch for an eagle, but either I was wrong or the eagle had been spooked by all the canoes. Short of tracking down the eagle and interviewing him, I’ll never know the answer.
More paddling, more swimming, more rock skipping, more mind-clearing. The outing was incredibly restorative.
Note to self: more day trips, more field trips, more breaks in the routine.What are your favorite day trips?