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Outdoor Day

Our city’s month-long Earth Day
festivities kicked off this past weekend with an outdoor festival
at a nature conservancy less than a mile from our house. Since
Earth Day is kinda a big deal around here (example: Brian’s
birthday is in April, and as the calendar turned on Friday I said,
“Hey, we’ve got a big day coming up in April!” to
which Maddie yelled, “YEAH!!! Earth Day, here we
come!!” Sorry, babe) we decided to head out for some fun.

I expected we’d wander a few of the
hiking paths, see some plants and birds, and wander home.
Maddie’s been a few times with her school class, and she was
eager to show us this really cool thing called an
“outhouse”. So I didn’t have hugely high
expectations – just enjoying the beautiful day outside.

We walked past a few eco-friendly booths, learning about water
conservation and recycling and composting. One stand featured
several small animals, and the girls got to pet a snake, a
chinchilla, and an iguana, so they were already in hog heaven. The
organizers gave each child a kite, and the girls couldn’t
wait to find an open space to give them a try.

Maddie ran into a friend from school, and the kids were soon
running and playing down the path. The other mother told me they
were about to open up the pond for free kayaking and canoeing, and
I immediately pointed our troops in that direction.

We had to wait for over half an hour for our turn in the boats, but
the kids were reasonably well behaved, flying kites on the path and
joking and playing with each other. Maddie listened to the safety
lecture on canoes with growing trepidation: her natural
cautiousness kicked in and she became rather concerned about
getting in a canoe. But after a few minutes watching other families
in the canoes, she agreed to get in.

Cora, on the other hand, couldn’t wait to get out on the
water. She kept standing next to Brian, slipping her hand into his,
and saying with feigned nonchalance, “Yeah, Daddy and I are
going canoeing together. Right, Daddy? Daddy’s on my team.
We’re in a boat together, me and him, in the water.”
She had her life vest on and practically pushed the canoe in the
water herself. In fact, as we stood waiting our turn, she actually
did help push the canoes in ahead of us, grunting and pushing all
the way to the edge before turning around, wiping her hands on her
shorts and marching back to us, saying, “I got them off.
They’re good.”

Finally it was our turn, and Brian took the girls in the canoe
while I paddled alongside in a single-rider kayak. Maddie, in the
middle, was quite worried, flailing her “helper” paddle
around a bit from side to side until I finally told her to relax
– Daddy would do all the work and she didn’t need to
concentrate. She folded her paddle across the canoe and sat back,

We glided around the pond a few times, and I could see the water
and the sun work their magic on the girls in minutes. We all sat
back, talking softly and slowly. When our turn was over they
climbed out easily and both cast a wistful look back.

I can’t wait for future vacations, when we can really hit the
water and enjoy our time out there.

And as for the star attraction of the conservancy – the
port-a-john – well, we got a chance to see that up close,
too. Cora declared a need, and where Maddie would have balked at
the less-than-ideal circumstances, Cora marched right in
unconcernedly and did her business. Afterwards she shrugged.
“It was cool. I looked it all over.”

Really? Let’s just do a little more hand sanitizer.


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