Tomorrow middle daughter goes back to school, so today we took advantage of the unseasonably cool (meaning slightly less hot than Hades) weather and went to Armand Bayou as a sort of last summer fling.
We started off with a picnic by the lake back of the old farmhouse, and as usual I packed enough food for three days: sandwiches, grapes, cheese, cantaloupe, two kinds of chips, hardboiled eggs, potato salad, nutella spread on graham crackers, three kinds of drinks. And, as usual, we managed to make a serious dent in the provisions, although I must confess we had a bit of help from a rather persistent crow.
Feeling adventurous, and momentarily forgetting we have a two-year-old, we decided to take one of the nature trails. It's only a mile, I thought. Practically a stroll around the block.
An hour later, we were still only halfway around the hypothetical block. I didn't mind so much, but then I wasn't the one carrying the I-absolutely-refuse-to-take-another-step-on-my-own toddler. Did I mention our two-year-old is a mutant who tips the scales at 40 pounds? We tag-teamed it the last half-mile or so, and between the three of us managed to carry, coax, and drag him back to the visitor's center.
In between the carrying, coaxing, and dragging, we had a nice time. We were all fascinated by the banana spiders, with their webs stretching between the trees, sometimes barely above our heads, sometimes twenty feet above the ground. We found an owl's feather. We spotted muscadine on the ground and searched the trees until we found the vines, heavy with fruit. The children weren't brave enough to try one, but they did take a tentative sniff when I broke open the tough purple skin to reveal the pale green flesh. When we reached the bayou, we marveled at the dragonflies and spent twenty minutes trying to spy the catfish feeding among the dense growth in the shallows.
It made me realize, though, just how much my children are city kids. The terrain was familiar to me, but might as well have been another planet to them. My daughter has never built a fort in the creek bank or tried to catch a crawdad or spent an afternoon watching a cicada emerge from its shell. On the positive side, she's also never had a rattlesnake crawl over her foot, gotten tangled in blackberry brambles, or come home in the evening covered in chigger bites.
I'm not entirely sure that's a fair trade-off.