Riverside With My Hula Girl

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April 28, 2014

She was so excited by the prospect of a simple walk by the river, how could I say no. So after days of intermittent rain, Brenna and I spend two hours walking the familiar paths near home.

Albert Ville
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Albert Ville
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/13891455600

“You don’t even want adventures anymore!” Brenna complained to me a few days ago. Rain was keeping us from the park. As dad, it was my fault and she knew how to hurt me most.

I wanted to tell her she was wrong, that when we strike it rich, I’ll retire and have nothing but adventures. But she only cared about that moment.

Two wishes each
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Two wishes each
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/14078531194

Today the sun is out, a pink backpack loaded with apple slices and My Little Ponies, and all is forgiven.

“Wait, dad!” Brenna yells, stooping to pluck dry dandelions in the grass along the sidewalk leading to the river. “We each get two wishes,” she explains.

Tree “house”
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Tree “house”
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/13891459180

The usual question, “tree house or beach,” has led us today to the tree. Brenna runs ahead and begins … well, I don’t even know what — climbing, singing, dancing.

Geneology
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Geneology
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/14098101993
Vampire
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Vampire
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/14074864151
Grandpas
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Grandpas
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/14074865571

Whenever I see cattails around a pond I remember the summer between second and third grade when our family moved from Aumsville, Oregon to Troy, Idaho. A freckled boy from the next hill over showed up one day and simply asked, “wanna blow up some grandpas?”

Turned out he had some firecrackers and “grandpas” were his name for the dry cattails around the farm pond between our houses. Brett and I blew up a lot of stuff over the years.

On a dare
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On a dare
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/13891438517
Holding fast
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Holding fast
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/13891460308
Bunkerville
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Bunkerville
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/14074909902

The six ponies come out to play a while (forgive me, I forget their names) before I’m regaled with a hula hoop show which I record to video.

Zero to sixty
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Zero to sixty
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/13891465408

Running maniacally through the tall grass around the tree after the hula hoop show, Brenna runs straight into a down tree at full speed. Laying on the ground she holds her knee, wailing, “I think it’s broke!”

“It will feel better in a minute,” I assure as I scoop her up and carry her to the nearby bench where she cries in my shoulder. Tending to a hurt child is one of a few things in life that come from deep within the primal brain. It feels inexorable.

“Are you ready to explore further?” I ask after she’s finished crying.

“Can you carry me?” she asks.

“Alright,” I concede.

Clutter
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Clutter
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/14078069445
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Our goal is the heron rookery we’ve visited several times. “This way,” I point out before she takes the lead again.

Seven deer
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Seven deer
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/14074879321

As we near the rookery, we glance up to see heron glide toward their high nests in what seems the manner of pterodactyls, bent necks and huge wings. Then I see two deer and then more in the grass directly ahead.

“Brenna,” I whisper. “Be quiet. Do you see the deer?”

When she does, she demands to move closer.

“That will scare them,” I say. “Let’s just watch from here.”

“No,” she insists, “I want to see them.”

When I still refuse, she goes into meltdown, an episode that concludes with her running after me from the place she said she’d never move from, crying “daddy.” You know how it goes.

Punctum
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Punctum
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/13891459019

Research has found a strong relationship between the ability of children to delay gratification and positive outcomes in adulthood. I always think of that when our kids are impatient and wonder how best to encourage them.

First blush
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First blush
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/14098124213
Visor
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Visor
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/13891485070
Blue weir
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Blue weir
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/13891459367

Brenna recovers from her mood crash and decides we should continue farther up the trail to the “waterfall.”

Thicket
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Thicket
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/13891467819
Standing wave
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Standing wave
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/13891484108
Evening walk
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Evening walk
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/13891472379

“Want to wear my coat?” I ask Brenna. Blue hour has replaced golden hour and I can see she’s getting cold.

“Okay.”

“This was my dad’s coat,” I say as I wrap it around her small frame. I don’t think of that much anymore. It’s just a simple jacket I bought for him when he was last in Boise. But I think Brenna might like the connection.

Long jump
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Long jump
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/13891468177
What we do for love
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What we do for love
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/14098139523

“I’m sad that I’m going to live longer than you,” Brenna announces as we’re walking along the dirt path. “You’re going to die before me, right?”

“Yeah.” We’ve had this conversation a few times now.¹

“I’ll always remember you, dad.”

“Thanks,” I answer.

  1. Trail Image, “Seeking Gold in Silver City”: trailimage.com/seeking-gold-in-silver-city
Candy striper
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Candy striper
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/13891478159
Her own way
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Her own way
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/13891480329

“Are you cold, dad?”

“No.” I lie because I know she’d choose to give the coat back and be cold herself.

Tiktaalik
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Tiktaalik
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/13891482209
Octopus
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Octopus
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/13891484399

She asks me to wait as we pass the special tree again so she can check to be sure we haven’t left a pony behind. They’re all safe.

Along the watchtower
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Along the watchtower
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/13891486089

“Can we stop at Blue Cow on the way home?” Brenna asks.

“No.” Twelve dollar frozen yogurts aren’t in the cards this close to bedtime. She waits a few minutes and asks the same question (kids!).

“No, but maybe we can stop for something at Albertsons on the way.”

“Okay,” she allows.