Adventure-uncovered secrets

Yesterday, a friend came over. Our plan A had included a picnic in the Middlesex Fells, but the weather was chancy, so we opted for a shorter, more local walk. I offered to show my husband, friend and eldest son the hidden tunnel running under I93, where in former years a train had run, that is the future path of the Tri-Community Bikeway and currently home to a very talented set of artists.

Tri-county bikeway - tunnel graffiti
Tri-county bikeway - tunnel graffiti

We got there and marveled, but our feet felt light, my mother-in-law (the saint!) was home with Thane, and we had no deeds to do or promises to keep. I offered to take us home the long way or the short way. With a lazy Saturday afternoon in front of us, under overcast skies, we took the long way.

And so we walked. I have always, always loved going on walks. I fondly remember the Connecticut College Arboretum, and the green. I love evening walks, right before bed, in bitingly cold or fondly warm dark. I love daytime walks through seemingly familiar but unexpectedly new paths. I have a tendency to drag people through bush, briar and bramble long past the polite mark, explaining that we’ve come so far that the fastest way home is forward. Sometimes this is even true. But I confess, I have never tried this with my eldest. I know my weakness is to push people past when I’m tired, and I’m an indefatigable walker.

But the path stretched so freely in front of me, and the company was so congenial, I decided to begin teaching my five year old my love of walking adventures.

We stopped at McDonald’s for ice cream and coffee. We stopped at Woodcraft to admire all the possible ways to remove digits and daydream of lives with room for whittling. We ducked off the road to try to identify an old abandoned building, and then circled back to it. We quoted each other poetry, discussed programming design patterns and explained some small section of the world to Grey.

We were getting a bit tired, by the time we walked past the gate.

The welcoming gate
The welcoming gate

The poem on the door reads:

Welcome to the Cotton-Arbo retum;
Please do step inside.
Here you’ll find a peaceful respite
And a feast for weary eyes.

Weary from a world that’s become
Plentiful with neon signs,
Blaring out wherever you go,
Up ahead and from behind.

Now the chaos of a crowded garden
Overwhelming seems to be,
But once you center your attention
Focus on the true beauty
Of a tree’s bright leaves or flowers,
Of a waterfall’s great power,
Soon you’ll find your vision shifting,
As the minutes roll to hours.

And to unwind you begin,
Like pluming grasses in the wind,
As a breeze can comfort you
And help you see the world anew.

The war with life’s resounding din
Can sound like raining rocks on tin.
This battle we hope you will win;
So take the first step,
Please come in.
– Mindy Arbo

We entered the hidden garden
We entered the hidden garden

Finding ourselves ready for both adventure and respite, we went in. It was probably an average sized suburban lot – maybe a little larger than the uniform green lawns we’d been walking past, but not unusually so. But this garden was so invested with love, you could palpably feel it. There were statues tucked into corners, poems printed on gates, pools of water with koi or fountains of cheerful water. There were blocks of rose quartz and a thousand varieties of plant. And through it all was the warm sense of welcome – to be invited as strangers into this labor of love and trusted to tread there with light and respectful feet. What a precious gift to give to strangers – the labors of your years!

The adventurers in the secret garden
The adventurers in the secret garden

We weren’t the only ones who liked the garden:

Baby bunny, big world
Baby bunny, big world

We left with light feet and light hearts, to return home.

Return to the world
Return to the world

The next block, we found a candy shop:

The advisability of stopping at a Gingerbread house while tired on a long adventure is not lost on me
The advisability of stopping at a Gingerbread house while tired on a long adventure is not lost on me

Grey, admittedly, got tired by this point. The entire journey was about 4 miles, which is rather a long walk for a five year old. I talked about the plants we passed on our long walk home: the walnut trees, foxglove, dogwood. (I got accused of making things up.) With tired feet, we came home – infinitely richer for our adventures.

I had forgotten. I had forgotten how many secrets you cannot see from the thirty-five-miles-an-hour world I live in. I had forgotten how lovely it is to walk with friends. I had forgotten the infinite variety of homes people live in. I had forgotten how liberating it is to step off the path and onto another path that does not lead to your goal.

I am so grateful to have remembered, and to have won a battle against “life’s resounding din”.

Taking Strides Towards Walking

My camera is out of charge so here's a pic from my phone
My camera is out of charge so here's a pic from my phone

Today I’m home with Thane. It’s actually going remarkably well. I have focused very intently on some worky work stuff and gotten quite a bit done. I transported Grey to preschool. I’ll go pick him up in the not-too-distant future and then get my MIL from the airport. I knew that this day was coming – the day when Thane would non-stop sleep in order to finish healing up from his cold. Two and a half hours this morning — hoo yeah!

In not unrelated news, my living room currently looks like a bomb hit it. It did. A drooly, cheerful 11-month old bomb, to be exact.

It’s been fun to spend some one-on-one time with Mr. Thane-pants. He’s pushing through one of his top incisors, and he has the cutest snaggle-tooth expression. His curls are excessively long and usually covered in food. The front of his face is a melange of snot, drool and stuff he’s found on the carpet. I know that doesn’t sound enchanting. You’ll have to trust me on it. Part of the fun has been watching just how he’s using his feet these days. He’s standing much more, and taking a step or two where he wants to go before dropping to the safety of crawling. He’s less ambitious than I recall his brother being. I think this is entirely behind why Thane will walk a month or two behind his brother. It’s been quite a while since those first steps, and Thane hasn’t been all that eager to keep going with them. Why, when he can crawl perfectly well? Grey was DYING to be one of the big boys from day #1. Thane seems a little happier to be a baby, assuming babies know how to read books.

We had a great weekend: hiking, doing aikido (Grey was HILARIOUS at aikido – I’ll blog more later), destroying and undestroying the house, lunch at church, Stoneham Town day… good times. We had a terrible night’s sleep last night. Adam went to bed at 8 pm last night and it was still a wretched night! Grey had nightmares (quality nightmares including zombies and ghosts. What? It wasn’t MY idea to let him watch Young Frankenstein! It was his!) Thane woke up every two hours due to excessive snottage. With the aid of penicillin, Adam was finally well enough to go back to work.

I wonder when Thane will finally figure out its faster to walk? Maybe I should put shoes on him in addition to socks. Or maybe I should let him go barefoot. Cute little baby feet!

They call me baby driver
They call me baby driver