Country Folks Can Survive

I grew up a country girl, more so than the way my boys are growing up.   My parents built their house in Powdersville back in 1977.  Back then Powdersville was nothing more than the Winn Dixie, an awesome hot dog stand and a dairy farm on a two lane stretch of highway.   Our back yard butted up to a horse pasture and our front yard looked out at a cow pasture.   My parents lived (and still do) on one acre in what was then a very desolate area.

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My boys picking blackberries.

I grew up without the suburban neighborhood feel that my kids have now.   We shucked corn in our backyard, as we fed the horses.   We had cows randomly walk into our front yard, pot bellied pigs, chickens, and even deer.   We didn’t own any of the livestock, it was just part of the scenery of our home.

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Davey did more picking than I thought he would.

We also had a garden, small by normal farm standards, but more than large enough to feed our family for an entire year.  My mama canned 52 quart jars of green beans a year, over a hundred quarts of tomatoes, not to mention the okra, squash, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers we had.   In the fall, my daddy would turn the land and we’d plant rows of turnips, and once again my mama would can and freeze turnip greens like it was no one’s business.   My Saturday mornings during the Spring and Summer consisted of rising well before all the cool rich kids who lived in the burbs, and harvesting the garden before the heat of the day took over.   The afternoons were spent in mama’s kitchen popping beans and helping her can.  This was my childhood, and as a child, I didn’t particularly enjoy it, but now?   Well, life was simple back then.

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Blackberries!

Dave and I chose to build a house in a subdivision, something he somewhat had and something I NEVER had as a child, but now I’m wishing we had land with the ability to plant and harvest and even raise chickens and goats.   I wish my boys had the childhood I had and so when the occasion allows, I try to encourage that with my kids.

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Davey was a bit unsure if he wanted to taste them or not.

Today, I decided to take them on an adventure so they could at least experience the wonderfully cool outdoor air and even a little bit of work.  Today we decided to ride up to Justus Orchard and pick blackberries.

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Henry was our basket carrier!

I would love to see things through a child’s eyes.  Davey does a good job of at least offering up a description for me.   As we rode north into North Carolina, the clouds were hanging low over the mountains.   Davey was fascinated.   He described how he was sure if he were on those mountains, he’d be able to touch those clouds and “don’t you think they would feel like marshmallows, mom?”  He was fascinated with the mountains, spying something different on each one even through the driving rain.   Every one of them, he wanted to hike up, “to the very top, mom, where I can almost touch God’s hand.”   See?  How great does this sound?   The drive alone was worth it.

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The first time they found the ducks!

When me made it to the orchard, the boys jumped out, rain boots already on (how are we going to jump in mud puddles without rain boots?), and an eagerness to just run between the rows and rows of blackberry bushes.

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Henry had a mishap.

They both helped pick for a while until suddenly a duck bill popped its way between two of the bushes.   There were ducks!  All sorts of ducks, just roaming freely through the orchard.   The boys took chase and quickly left the blackberry picking to me.  Naturally, I stopped periodically to take pictures (I never leave home without my camera).   The boys didn’t put in any hard work, but how wonderful it was just to have them all muddy and covered in blackberry stains.   They were having fun!   It was the kind of fun I had as a kid.

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I just love the view of the rows and rows of orchards and my little Davey running through them.

 

When we were ready to leave, Davey said, “mom, I’d like to live here.”   Yeah me too.   You see, I may not be the smartest lass in the land, but I know what hard work is and I know that there’s nothing like country life…living it, breathing it, and just soaking it in.   On the drive back home, I thought about all those poor kids who are sitting inside, iPads and computers in front of them.   Yeah, they might be geniuses and they might be the next great inventor, but what happens one day should those computers and electronics go away?

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One more chase before we had to leave.

Country folks can survive, to quote Bocephus himself.

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New Adventures

I’m game for trying almost anything, especially if it’s an activity for my kids.   This past week, I read an article in Parents Magazine about this nationwide group called Hike it Baby.  It’s basically a group of parents who get together on different days and go hiking.  At the end of the article, I was given a website where I could go and find local groups.   I went there, found one, joined the Facebook page, introduced myself and agreed to go on our first hike with the group today.

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Starting our hike.

My boys love being outdoors and I love finding a way to mix in exercise with our day-to-day routines since I’m having a terrible time losing weight.   We’ve hiked on numerous occasions at Paris Mountain, and the boys are constantly asking me to go again.   Thanks to this overbearing heat, we haven’t been able to make it out to hike during the summer.  Well, I won’t blame it just on the heat…I do worry about snakes as well.  YUCK!

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I packed us up this morning and we headed out to Lake Conestee Nature Park in Southern Greenville County.   We were told to meet at the playground, but when we arrived I must say my stomach began to turn.  Perhaps it was the smoothie I made this morning (my husband and I are on a cleanse.  Stay tuned for a blog on that), or just the oppressive humidity, but really it was the immense number of moms who were already there.

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Checking out the river.

When I was younger, I enjoyed talking.   I enjoy talking now, but just with people I know.  I’m not very good at meeting new people, nor am I very good at chit chat, also known as small talk.   For the sake of my children, I try very hard in this arena, but alas I’m just a colossal failure and I knew today would be a tough one.

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Henry was hoping to climb over and that I wouldn’t catch him. Little stinker!

We quickly gave a round robin, welcome where we introduced ourselves and our kids.   First thing I noticed was all the moms and their baby packs.  Davey was the oldest one there, and I’m pretty sure Henry was the second oldest.   I know the group is called Hike it Baby, but I thought that also included toddlers and preschoolers.   This should have been my sign to pack it up or go off on our own, but since I’d already introduced us, I knew it would look shamefully bad for me to leave.

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They liked being the leaders of the pack.

The leader of the group took us down the path and yet another sign that this was not to be a good event seemed to flash in front of me.  My children were not interested in staying with the group.  Nope.  My little rays of sunshine (sarcasm for those of you who DON’T know my children) decided to run.   I wasn’t going to have any casual conversation with any of the other moms.  Nope.  I turned around to catch a glance of the moms and they all seemed to be paired off talking about the latest organic diaper or homemade food little junior was eating.  I was the odd mom out.  I’m pretty used to that.

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Some of the wetlands in the park.

Even with all of this, I decided to stick it out, but to say that we proceeded at an excruciatingly slow pace is an understatement.  We walked a mile in 41 minutes, 27 seconds.   That’s my pace for a 4 mile run and the pace for my kids to hike 3 miles.   Then again, we don’t stroll and talk.  We take our hiking a bit more seriously.   I had hoped for this to be my opportunity to get in some exercise, but I don’t even think I burned 30 calories, much less got my heart rate up.

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Henry decided he could go it alone.

We finished up the hike, with me meeting ZERO parents, and climbed back in our car.   The boys had fun and they want to do it again.  Me?  I’m game for that.  The preserve was beautiful, the hike not too strenuous, and there’s 400 acres to explore.   I just think we’ll go it alone the next time or perhaps with just one other friend.

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I’m sure the group is wonderful, especially for those who are more outgoing than me and have children who don’t run around like wild banshees.   They’re offering up the opportunity to hike a portion of Table Rock on Thursday and I think we may still do that and if it comes down to it, we’ll just go off on our own.

DSC_0219Davey is learning how to pose for photos from Aunt Erin.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about a Hike it Baby group near you, then google the name and find your closest location.

Today, We Swim With Fishes

The morning was gray.  Thick clouds snuffed out the sunlight.   It was early, much too early for a Friday morning, for us to be awake and tackling a day.

The secret had remained safe, tucked within the confines of mine and my husband’s brain.  Once, just the night before, my husband had nearly opened the gates of Castle Secret and allowed the family adventure to escape prematurely.   Fortunately, the wheels remained locked and the chains never allowed the bridge to unfurl.   We’d planned the day for weeks, discussing in depth what we would do, and clinging to the mercy of Mother Nature before we could truly decide.   The mists of rain, saddening fog, and all around dullness of the morning gave us our answer.   We needed bright colors, non stop entertainment, and adventures galore.

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At 7:00 a.m., The Doser Family Friday of Fun trekked out into the dismal morning.   My husband and I had only moments before decided to share with our boys where we were going…The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta.

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Davey seems to have an obsession with whale sharks and stingrays.   He talks of them profusely, reading and re-reading the book of sea creatures given to him by his Aunt Dee Dee.   He can tell the difference between the various species of sharks and whales, determining which is which and what each one’s purpose is.   Once we told him of our adventure, made even more special by the fact that Daddy was taking an entire day off from work, his chatter never ceased.   Would we pet stingrays?  Would we see whale sharks?  What about crabs?

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Two years ago, while Henry was a mere six months old, we made our first trip to the Georgia Aquarium.   We touched stingrays, met a real live Nemo, watched a dolphin show, and rode along a conveyor belt through a tunnel of water full of fish.   Obviously, Henry couldn’t recall it, but Davey still did.

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He was at full speed as we walked into the aquarium, eager to go from one exhibit to the next.   My husband and I took a deep breath, as Henry struggled to break free from our grasp and chase after his brother.   We were in for an exhausting day, a long day, and a day we were sure would test our true levels of patience.

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As we made our way through, I saw the aquarium through a different set of eyes.   I saw a true inquisitive nature, one of wonder and excitement.   For me, an aquarium has always been nothing more than ho-hum.   I see the fish and various sea creatures with not much curiosity.   My boys?   Their wonderment never ceases to amaze me.

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I watched as their eyes grew narrow when truly studying a fish.   Their heads would tilt from one side to the next.   Henry would slowly take his finger and push on the glass while asking what kind of fish we were looking at.   When the glass wall emerged, with three beluga whales swimming towards them, my boys jumped with excitement, their eyes growing wider.   Davey tried to run along the glass wall eager to keep pace with the whales, while Henry just stood in amazement, his mouth agape.

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We watched the dolphin show.  Henry tilted his head back and laughed hysterically with each somersault performed by the dolphins.   “That’s silly,” he would exclaim before another belly laugh would overtake him.

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We watched a 4D version of Happy Feet in the theatre and when the whale crashed down into the water, we felt sprays of water as well.   Davey laughed, while Henry shook his head and pursed his lips looking as if he were sucking on a lemon.   My husband and I, alone, would have had an enjoyable time, but we wouldn’t have had an adventure and the time of our lives.   We wouldn’t have laughed as hard as we did, smiled as much, or even run as much.

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As the day closed out, the rain began coming down.   We quickly, but sluggishly, walked back to the car.   Once in the car, and after surviving a power outage in Atlanta, our boys were fast asleep.   While watching them nap, I thought of how my husband and I use to be able to go places at the drop of the hat.   We would vacation in Jamaica, cruise the Caribbean, spend a last minute weekend in the mountains.   We used to do all of this, but I can’t recall having the same level of fun as we had when with our boys on Friday.

Going On a Bear Hunt

I’ve blogged before about all of these romantic, Norman Rockwell-esque visions I’ve had of raising my children.   I’ve always imagined our adventures to be like something you would see in an old Saturday Evening Post.   The boys would be dressed handsomely, the adventures would go off flawlessly, and we’d all have a grand laugh and sheer enjoyment.   Then I became a mother to two boys, and I realized that any sort of notion I’d had about having this type of family could immediately be shooed out the door like today’s annoying fly.

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When Davey was still a baby, we bought a hiking backpack that has a nice little compartment for him to sit in.   My husband and I thought that since we lived in one of the more beautiful place of South Carolina, with mountains literally right in our backyard, that we could go on hikes.   It never happened.   Davey never once got to sit in said backpack and experience the fresh air, the exciting wildlife, or the exhilaration of hiking through the woods.

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When Henry came along, we used the backpack while flying, finding it easier as he’s become older to put him in it as opposed to bringing along a labor intensive stroller.   For weeks I’ve considered remedying this, to take my boys out into the woods, to experience nature, like I did as a kid.   Unfortunately, the incessant rain and cumbersome flooding we’ve received have dampened (all puns intended) my desire to go for a hike, not to mention that I’ve been super worried about going alone with the boys, only because they can be a handful at times.   Yesterday, we made that dream into a reality.

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For the first time in weeks, my husband came home early on a Friday.   He had no meetings, no golf games, or clay shooting events.   He wasn’t going deer hunting on a Saturday morning, so no need to go out on the land to check out his blind or his feeder.  Nope.   The stars officially aligned for our hiking trip, so we took it.

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As I stated earlier, we live in the most perfect of places.   We have Paris Mountain literally in our backyard.   It’s a beautiful mountain, not extremely high, but gorgeous to look at while sitting on our back porch in the evenings.   Since it was after 2 when my husband got home, we decided our best bet was to just go to Paris Mountain to hike as opposed to driving to one of the many other splendid places.

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I laced up my hiking boots, the wonderfully comfortable North Face boots my husband bought me 5 years ago and which I’ve only worn a handful of times.   I dressed the boys warmly, had them all prepared, so that as soon as my husband walked into the door we could go, and off we went.

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This is a great time of year for a hike, especially in South Carolina.   The days are still enjoyably warm, but not too hot.   The mountain air was fresh and invigorating.   We started out on the small trail, before taking on one just a little bit harder.   My husband took the lead, Henry strapped to his back, while Davey and I followed along.

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The entire hike, Davey periodically broke into song, singing, “Going on a bear hunt,” while other times asking about the creeks, the fallen trees, the fallen leaves, the rocks he had to climb over, or some of the massive roots.   We used the opportunity to talk to him about if he’s ever lost in the woods and is thirsty where best to drink water…from a flowing creek or stream.   We talked about the huge roots, why some of them can be seen above ground, and what their purpose is.   We stepped over small breaks in the trail where trickles of water were flowing.   We even repurposed some of the fallen branches into our own personal walking sticks.

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About a mile into the hike, Henry decided he’d had enough of being lugged around on his daddy’s back, especially as he saw Davey able to enjoy the physical exploration of the trail, so we took him out and let him walk.  I cringed for a split second as I wondered if he’d actually stay with us on the trail or if he’d wander off and try to climb the mountain.   He quickly proved me wrong, but after only a half mile of walking, he tripped and fell, thereby skinning up his hands and forcing us to put him back into the backpack.

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We had a wonderful time, an hour and a half of nothing but us and God’s beautiful creations.   It took us literally an hour and a half to hike 3 miles, which I’m hoping will improve once we get the boys going more regularly.   Davey even enjoyed himself so much, that he wanted to get up and go again this morning.   Unfortunately, our Saturday is already booked solid.

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What a great day of hiking, “bear hunting”, and family time.   I can’t wait for more.