A Nature Walk, a Picnic, and a Possum Stick

We went on a picnic and a nature walk over the weekend at a favorite park. The weather was divine - cool, crisp, sunny. We packed a mash up of what was in the fridge and pantry for our picnic: tuna salad, leftover kale salad, crackers, peanut butter, oranges, pears, and cheese sticks. We call this a "snack lunch," when you have a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Snack lunches are best enjoyed picnic style, outdoors.
To go for our walk in the woods, my girls both wore dresses... I wished they wore play clothes, but I said nothing. They really like dresses, and I'm practicing not nagging them. They also both carried huge water bottles onto the trail, despite my warning that I was unwilling to carry them should they get tired of lugging them around. I'm also practicing setting boundaries.
Kids have minds of their own, for sure... and their own ideas of how a nature walk should go. My girls decided to bring along a huge "walking stick," a fallen branch they had brought home from Nana's yard a couple of weeks ago. It was loaded in the car and traveled with us... and from it they hung two stuffed possums. Yes, possums. These guys joined us for our picnic, and then the smaller one went with us on our hike, hanging from the stick.  I once again warned I was unwilling to carry the possum stick at any point. Boundaries.
Toward the end of the walk, both the stick and my youngest gal's water bottle became a burden. No big surprise. My husband carried the possum stick for a while; I assured him it wasn't too weird as we passed other non-possum-stick-carrying families. My daughter whined and kicked her water bottle along the path dramatically; I bit my tounge and said nothing. When the bottle was left on a bench, I didn't pick it up. She went back for it, and kicked it along a bit more. She never once asked me to carry it. I held her hand and talked to her of other things. And she made it the whole way, responsible for her own bottle. (She did tell me next time she will leave it in the car.)
From the path, we saw five deer back in the canopy. We stood watching them for some time and they watched us back. We spotted a pileated woodpecker on a tree, a hawk on a fence, and regal ospreys soaring overhead in clear blue skies. Along the way, we admired wildflowers with zebra longwing butterflies flitting about them, Spanish moss dripping from the oaks, and the sun peeking through the fronds of tall palm trees. This is Florida in January.
The day was an odd mix of magical, weird, ordinary, irritating, and deeply fulfilling experiences. Which pretty much sums up parenting. As we returned to our car, there was a man down near the water playing a flute. Yes, a flute. So strange, yet so beautiful. He faced us in the parking area and played us out as we packed up and pulled away.
Life is never boring, friends.

xoxo - Liz


Rose said...

Lovely. Amusing. Frustrating. I think I usually feel those emotions every day! Sounds like you're in that "middle years" shift, too. It's challenging for sure, but it sounds like you're coming from the right place.

SwedeLife said...

As if to say life blows....

Unknown said...

Hi! I am in Sarasota as well and am wondering what park you were at. So much wildlife!!!

liz said...

Julie - Hello fellow Sarasotan! We were at Rothenbach Park at the very end of Bee Ridge Rd. I walk this park a couple mornings a week and almost always see deer. The birds (especially raptors) are abundant, and on occasion you can catch a glimpse of a bunny in the brush, or the big alligator in the lake!