an outing unphotographed

Yesterday we took a trip to the Harold Parker State Forest. It took us an hour of driving (round trip) for an hour of pond and forest fun—maybe we would have done things differently had we planned it from the beginning—but never mind, it was was totally worth it! The adventure was conceived around 3:30 in the afternoon: we were all stultified by the heat, but Leah had enough brainpower left to suggest a swimming trip. Of course Walden Pond was closed—and while eastern Massachusetts is studded with ponds, most of them are either private or poisonous. So our next best option was a half-hour drive away.

After packing everything up—including a picnic supper—we hit the road at quarter past four and got out of the car a few minutes before five. The gate to the parking lot closes at 6:00, so we had a hard stop. Leah and the boys went straight to the pond, where they swam and chased fish, and Lijah practiced going underwater. I brought my bike to ride some of the many miles of trails the forest offers, with the idea that I'd get back in time for the picnic—maybe even in time to take a quick dip in the pond. And take some pictures! Of course, I should have known that wouldn't happen. I always lose track of time when I'm riding, and on top of that I took a wrong turn when I did decide to head back and spent a little too long riding fast in the wrong direction. In retrospect I should have left the car keys with Leah so if necessary she could have waited for me outside the gate—the park doesn't close, just the parking. But I didn't, so I just rode faster and got back to the lot at 5:58. Phew!

Everybody had a great time: my stress was balanced out by the fun of the ride and all the great exercise. And my family saved me some food! Still, next time we head that way we'll budget a little more of the day for the outing. And take some pictures.

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the return of the king

We spotted a monarch butterfly in our yard earlier this week: the first of the year. We're always happy to see them, and we do what we can to invite them in and make them feel welcome. There are butterfly-friendly flowers all over the yard, and they're especially concentrated in the side yard, where a discerning lepidopteran can find butterfly bush, tall phlox, beebalm, and, especially for those monarchs, plenty of milkweed. I took a look and I think I spotted a few eggs on the milkweed, so we'll have a hunt for caterpillars in a little while.

While I was sick the other day I read Barbara Kingsolver's Flight Behavior, which I enjoyed even if a few things about it troubled me. Mainly how strongly its main themes were presented as moral lessons: that monarch butterflies are tremendously valuable both for their beauty and for their role as a proxy for wider environmental issues, which I agree with, and that you should leave your spouse if you're not totally in love with them, on which I have more nuanced opinions. Although maybe you shouldn't trust my review of the book since I was pretty loopy with fever when I pushed through the whole thing in basically one sitting (one "lying-in-bedding?"). But yes, monarchs. Yay monarchs!

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our six-hour pond visit

Even though it got us all sick our outing a week ago was pretty fantastic, so I wanted to note some its positive aspects. Because there's not much better than boating with friends!

the view from our canoe to our friends' kayak on Walden Pond

delightful

Even though there was no forward planning—I just thought of the outing that morning and invited our friends at around 7:00—we were able to throw things together in time to meet at the pond at 8:30 (we had to make sure to get in before it closed!). We took a leisurely paddle across, and all around, the pond, then set up camp at a nice spot to swim. Of course, when there are boats pulled up on the shore they exert a powerful pull, and before too long the swimming was well-mixed with boating. Left on shore without a boat I could only hope they would come back! (Of course they would: I had the lunches!)

kids and boats out in the pond

can you spot them all?

As the morning wore on our beachy spot got a little crowded, so we re-loaded the boats and headed to another cove which, besides being less occupied, gave us a chance to swim in the shade! It was also right by the rail line, and we were lucky enough to be by the tracks right as a train went by. I should have shot a video!

Zion and Lijah holding their ears as a train roars by ten feet away

whoooooosh

Soon afterwards our friends needed to head home. We saw them off, stopped by the bathroom, then re-embarked to find a quiet spot to have lunch. People definitely spread out more at Walden now than they did pre-Covid, so it took us a while to find a private space—we never would have managed it without a boat! After lunch I tried to nap while the boys swam, then I joined them for some water play. Then finally it was time to leave—not to go home, but to visit the Farmers Market in Lexington. What a full day!

Lijah sleeping in his car seat

zzz

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at least it wasn't Covid..

I thought that the boys' illness was due to too much sun, and attributed a weak spell I felt myself to vacuuming in the heat, but in retrospect we may have actually been sick. The clue was that by 9:00 on Friday morning I was so weak and dizzy I couldn't stand up, and that I wasn't able to eat anything between Friday breakfast and Saturday supper. There was also some time spent in the bathroom; I won't trouble you with the details. So I guess, as well as heat exhaustion, we all picked up some sort of stomach bug among the throngs at the pond. A 24-hour bug, thankfully, rather than the coronavirus—which I assume was also a possibility if we were in a position to be taking on germs at all. I wonder if four months of social distancing and mask-wearing have let our immune systems start slacking off?

The most notable thing to me about being sick—besides the kindness and consideration of my family—was that I was able to reach a point where Gatorade was palatable. More than palatable, even; more like the nectar of the gods, at least when it was watered down with ice. It had the stuff my body needed! I wonder if any of that appreciation will linger now that I'm almost back to normal? I don't think I'll risk a trial.

moments from the week

the kids swimming beyond the beached canoe

our happy place

Moments from the past week.

Lijah going down a zip-line

zzzzip!

the dogs swimming in the Old Reservoir

reservoir dogs

Lijah climbing up a partially fallen tree above ferns

tree, ferns

Harvey paddling the canoe on the lake

Harvey on the water

Zion in the car with a big bag of blueberries and a donut

blueberry picking spoils

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