Children on the River. 10/1/11 and 10/8/11
Two trips in October with my children, taking each out individually for undivided time. Last weekend was my son’s turn. It would be his first night sleeping without a tent; he’s old enough to rationalize that nothing will chew his face off now. We slept beside each other on a bank above the river, awakening to first light glowing along the cliffs across from us. “Dad, sleeping out is WAY better than being in a tent”. He rolled over, half inside my bag, head on my arm, we lay there and looked at the branches and sky together before getting out of our bags. He’s rapidly losing his boyishness, on several occasions I noticed a certain look in in his eyes, a certain posture change; he’s looking confident and independent.
This weekend was my daughter’s turn. We ended up camping in the exact same spot as where I camped the weekend before. This trip was colder- no swimming in the river, this time the evening was spent huddled around soup and a small fire. Orange light flickering off the canyon walls, my mind is drawn far away to the ancients of this land, to ghosts, to how long people must have walked these canyons before us, how long it must have taken this river to carve this channel through the rock. My daughter was tired early, retiring not long after dark to the tent with the dog, leaving me to finish my bottle of wine alone in the white-noise silence of the water. I awaken to her smiling, her copper hair flung about her pillow and face and stuck in the barbs of my beard. Hot chocolate soon follows, fortified with cookies. When I take them, they do all of their own menu planning; the pre-trip journey to the market is part of the ritual they enjoy. Sipping my lapsang tea, watching her dribble cocoa and crumbs on her down jacket in the crisp morning air. Who gives a shit how expensive that jacket was; you’d be a fool to try and stop a kid from being a kid.
Two separate weekends, two different children, walking out, hand in hand, feet wet and cold from river crossing, heads filled with an optimism about our days.