the canal


Auggie and the Lock House Collage
"the beauty and charm of the wilderness are his for the asking, for the edges of the wilderness lie close beside the beaten roads of the present travel."  - theodore roosevelt

there are dozens of stories i could tell about the c&o canal. it is where - as andy would put it - i cut my teeth on the outdoors. as children, we spent many summer nights there, camping with my father and our family dog, kodiak. sometimes we'd load up the canoe, the back end heavy from the weight of a cooler filler with enough hot dogs, dr. peppers, and reese's cups to last us a week. other times, we'd strap our tightly rolled sleeping bags onto the front of our bikes and fit whatever else we could into backpacks. one of our first trips wasn't long after i learned to ride a bike and my father must have had to stop a maddening amount of times for claudin and i, who were both still a bit wobbly on wheels. he'd inevitably pull ahead - no doubt anxious to get to our camp site - when a faint cry would echo in the woods as one of us swerved off the tow path into bush (or as i almost did, right into the potomac river). it's a wonder he ever ventured to take us out again, but he did. year after year. and if we were frustrating trail buddies, he never let on.

even when we grew out of camping trips with papi and other interests (boys!) took over the desire to spend summer nights around a bonfire telling stories and eating our weights worth in reese's, the canal always held a special place in my heart. i'm sure it was those trips with my father - that seemed like great adventures into the wilderness - that gave me an appreciation for the natural world.

introducing children to the outdoors is both unusually simple and surprisingly complicated. take a child outside and most likely you will have bought yourself hours while they explore everything from the blue sky to the ants crawling in and out of their sandy mounds. plan a more "structured" excursion with children and you've added a humbling element to the mix.

we took august over to the canal this weekend with the intention of doing some fishing. andy, who comes from a family of anglers and is one of the most devoted outdoorsman i know, has been excited for this day ever since we found out i was pregnant with a boy. i was proud of my husband though because when august showed more interest in throwing rocks into the canal than he did casting a line into it, andy never let on to any disappointment. it was just like years before, with my dad and his unsteady twins.

as we walked back to the car with august perched on top of andy's shoulders and all of us searching for turtles in the water, i thought about how different my vision was from the morning we actually had. and while i wouldn't really call it a successful day of fishing, ask any one of us, and we'd all say that it was a win.

andy doesn't usually read blogs, but when he does stalking the seam is his go to and for those of you who are interested in taking your little ones outdoors, here are some great tips


Lauren said...

Lucinda, your writing is so evocative. Really, really beautiful. As you know, we just spent the weekend in the mountains, where I cut my teeth on the outdoors. And now, looking back, it's SO funny, because my dad has turned out to be somewhat allergic to the outdoors! ;)

Being there fed my soul in so many ways, so I guess I want to say, it matters not the result (fish caught), what matters is simply that you were there. Love.


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