Mom – let’s go for a walk. Please – I want to take pictures of the snow.
I stare at my computer screen. I have several deadlines looming — but it’s so beautiful outside. I’m not very good at resisting an adventure.
We dress warm and head out into the forest near our house. (OK – so calling it a forest is a bit generous. The Ponds is a big swamp the City hasn’t figured out how to build houses on yet.)
I have learned to seek adventures close to home. I interviewed the Canadian landscape painter Robert McAffee (read that interview here) and he taught me to look at the things we see everyday with fresh eyes.
I interviewed photographer Sarah Grace (read that article here) who taught me to use a camera to seek out beauty in the ordinary. By searching out beauty every day, I’ve learned to look outside my own problems and see the beauty just waiting to be inhaled.
As we walked, our boots crunched on the hard snow and on the more travelled parts sank into the soft mud. This snow won’t stay, the ground isn’t frozen yet. Leaves clung to branches covered in a precariously balanced load of snow. The sun glistened off the new blanket of white everywhere.
We have walked this bit of bush/swamp many many times. I like to pretend we live in the country so we come here a lot. We know the path well, but with each new season, each new season-of-life, we manage to find beauty and see something we’d missed before.
Walking and Wandering and Laughing
When we go adventuring we do a lot of walking and wandering and laughing — and we talk. It’s on our adventures that she tells me what’s on her heart, what she’s praying for, what keeps her up at night — where she wants to end up in life and the kind of person she wants to be.
And I listen and empathize. I don’t minimize or brush off her concerns and worries — if it’s important to her it’s important to me. Just because I’ve walked the path before her and understand that it’s (usually) a short season — I also remember the anxiety, the faltering steps, the impatient waiting. It’s a serious business growing up!
I try to offer some wisdom here and there, but I often repeat back what she says in a different way. Sometimes she nods, yes – that’s right, and sometimes she squints and her nose wrinkles: I don’t know if that’s what I really want. Sometimes we just need a sounding board.
We had so much fun on our walk, and the clouds were so beautiful, we got in our van and decided to chase the sunset (deadlines still looming). She always plays DJ so we listened to a lot of Christmas music. She sang and snapped photos and I drove and listened. We stay off the highways and find the way less travelled. We got a little lost and found a Timmy’s on the way home (maybe we weren’t as lost as we felt).
Our adventures are fairly ordinary — common even. We go to a park we’ve been to a hundred times, or we stay up late to watch meteor showers on a dark country road 10 minutes from home, or try and photograph a blue moon from our deck. Just once, I’d love to sit under the Northern Lights with them — but that takes fortitude. I’ve only seen The Lights when it’s the dead of winter and it’s really really cold (do they come when it’s warm?).
Not once do my girls look at me like I’m crazy. Instead, their faces light up – “I’m game!” One day they won’t be around as much (which is precisely as it should be), so when they ask me to go for a walk or chase the sunset or watch a meteor shower – I’m game!
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,” he used to say. “You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to. Do you realize that this is the very path that goes through Mirkwood, and that if you let it, it might take you to the Lonely Mountain or even further and to worse places?” ~Bilbo Baggins
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