I have a vacation post, summer snaps, garden post and a big ol' letter to Hazel brewing in my blogging bucket. But first....
:: My happy place: outside, roaming the wilds of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem, placing feet to earth, cool, a camera in my hand, with my three favorite people. We had the best hike today.
We hadn't hiked much this summer, it was so hot (high 80's), we gravitated towards water instead. But then, monsoon rains! Hail! More rain! Everything cooled off. Flies vanished. Mosquitoes too. (Also today, sadly, my tomatoes are dying from some fungal blight.) But dang if this isn't the perfect hiking weather.
We made tracks, played games, explored newly fallen pinecones and half-rotting bolete mushrooms. Hazel half rides, half hikes, but Juniper will run up a steep trail, leap over logs and dash up gravely scree, if she has cause. This hike, we were all trying to push the capacity of our lungs and so we made a game of it.
I (or my husband) would sprint up the trail until my lungs collapsed, then dive behind a tree and await my prey.
Juniper would run up the trail behind me (Hazel in her wake), squealing, anticipating the surprise attack of a wild, roaring bear. Together, they would knock me to the ground with their magic freezing powers. And in this way, we made it to the top of a steep hill. (I was sore the next day.)
(^Sorry about the crappy photos...I've been exploring my new iphone, learning what it can and can't do. It can do a lot, and it can't do much.)
When that game wore out and the kids would ask for a snack break right after having a snack break, we moved on to "flower power": I'd pick a plentiful wildflower to carry Juniper further up the mountain. She'd hold it high in the air and march up the trail.
We'd stop and tuck into mountain maples.
Or pick berries. Kids are natural foragers and they love plucking something right out of the forest and popping it in their mouths. (It is well worth it to know your edibles.)
Or their pockets.
We were too late for huckleberries, but we came home with enough oregon grape to make a batch of jelly.
Most glorious of all, when we got as far as we were going to go, we ducked into a dry wash. My man took the best kind of nap and Hazel found a fairy cave. The kids went bonkers, spending the next half hour or so cleaning, furnishing and decorating the fairy cave. And I had absolutely nothing to do but watch, make suggestions, and simply exist in the presence of my children. My happy place.
^Note the stack of "firewood" staying dry inside the cave.
In the end, this little fairy ended up with: dry firewood, a fire-ring, a cup, bowl, plate and spoon; flower decorations, a cradle and pillow for her baby, a supply of (poisonous but it doesn't matter because fairies are magical) berries, a flagpole, tent, sleeping bag and pillow--in case she wanted to camp outside of her cave.
They would have kept on going but I insisted we leave in case the fairy came back home, since we were sure to frighten her away.
You know how you can have a gloriously full day? We had a full hike. Even though we were no more than a mile from home and we never made it above timberline and we didn't even have a creek to walk along, we had a complete, satisfying, bucket-filling hike.
My man was rested, Hazel exhausted, I was in my happy place, and Juniper was pumped.
She ran down the trail a la Laura Ingalls in the prairie grass, but tripped on a rock, flew through the air and landed on her face.
She wiped the tears away, laughed about her flying body, and was ready to pick berries again. We were only gone from the house for a few hours, but it felt like the universe had granted us a whole extra day together. My happy place.