Friday, April 29, 2022

An afternoon on the Chattahoochee

It's not that I haven't taken the kids out since Phoebe's been born, because I have. We've just...always gone the very same place, just a two minute drive from our house, with paved trails the stroller can handle, and plenty of playground areas to choose from should we stumble upon a crowded one, and...basically what I'm saying is that I've simply been repeatedly choosing the absolutely easiest outing possible for the last, oh, six months or so. 

If not longer.

The past year has been a full year. I wouldn't say that it's been bad, but it has been full. Sometimes with heavy stuff, sometimes with lovely stuff. Sometimes with lovely stuff that is heavy, sometimes with heavy stuff that is lovely, sometimes with unlovely heavy stuff. That's how years seem to pass.

But today I was feeling pretty adventurous (I've more-or-less finished my final projects so have some room to breathe) so I let the kids talk me into visiting Jones Bridge Park, where I knew we'd mostly just get wet (which is okay).

When we piled out of the van and were walking through the parking lot, Benjamin said, "I can't hear the river yet, which means it can't be too full, which means it should be fine to get in!"

I told him to just cool his jets and to not run ahead and we'd decide about the river when we could see it. 

As it turns out, he was right! The river was perfect for wading in!

...if you like 50°F water. 

Trout and these little crawdads seem to like the water that chilly:

My kids weren't exactly shy about getting in, either:

Though a few did attempt some sensible wading with boots on at first:

Others of us were immediately less sensible:

Here's the (initially) sensible crowd:

And here's the (initially) sensible crowd gasping at Alexander, who'd just slipped and landed on his stomach in the water:

Poor little wet guy:

We peeled off his sopping wet shirt and then all sorts of insensibilities busted out of my kids and they all ended up fairly soaked through. Even Phoebe dipped her toes into the teeth-chattering Chattahoochee. She did not react at all while her feet were in the water.

But when I put her back in her wrap she burrowed in all snuggly and had what I only presume was a little stress-nap (it's been awhile since she's engaged in stress-napping, but she almost immediately went to sleep after dipping her in the river, so...).

Here's Zoë getting brave:

And here's Alexander leaping off of the rock that I told him not to leap to in the first place (because it gets swift and deep on that side of the rock; he was only suppose to splash about on the side closest to the river bank, where there was only a trickle-y, tickle-y stream).

See? These little "wading pools" look much safer than the rushing, rising rivulets on the left.

A sweet lady was there with her two boys, and her baby, and her mom, and offered to take a picture of all of us together, precisely because she knows how hard it is to be present with your kids in photographs. It was very sweet of her! So here we all are:

It looks like Rachel is taller than I am, but that's only because she's standing on the "crest" of the rock. She's not taller than me in real life (yet...though she is close to being so).

Here's Alexander charging through the water:

Here's Benjamin after crossing to another little outcrop of rock:

He enjoyed sunning himself over there.

One fun thing about me is that I really can never completely relax around the water. Like, for example, I ran into my friend Melita this afternoon (or, rather, she ran into us). While we were off a ways away playing she arrived with her youngest in tow (she has six kids, but only four left at home; her youngest is Alexander's age) and set him loose playing in the water while she sat on the steps and read a book

Part of me wants to tell myself that is perfectly fine. I think of Huckleberry Finn and millions of other (actual) children who survived visiting rivers and fishing holes without any parental supervision at all. Melita's little boy seemed very aware of his limits in the water and spent most of his time making little mud castles and sitting on the exposed rock. I don't think his swimming trunks even got wet!

So, really, no judgement to her for making this decision (even though it's a decision I could never make, not without being sure someone else's eyes were on my kids).

My kids are hooligans around water and thanks to my lifeguard training I can't but help spend the entire time scanning the water and counting heads. 

Oh, I brought a book with me, imagining that I could sit and read while the kids the park...but not at the river. Nope. I was scanning the water and counting heads the whole time. 

1, 2, 3, 4, 5. 

1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

1, 2. 3. 4. 5.

Wait a minute. Don't I have six kids?! Where's the sixth? Oh, right. The sixth is this baby strapped to me. I only need to count to five still.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

1, 2, 3, 4...

1, 2, 3, 4...

1... 2... 3... 4.

Someone is missing. Scan. Scan. Scan. 

"WHERE'S BENJAMIN?!!" I shrieked. 

Well, his little head shot up off the rock he'd been sunbathing on (while the rest of the kids were all somewhat vertical, clambering over rocks and so forth). 

"I'm here!" he said. "What's wrong?"

Nothing, nothing. Nothing at all is the matter. I just about had a panic attack. But now we're all good.

He'd blended right into the scenery, with his green pants, sandstone tan, towhead hair.

Here are Benjamin and Zoë making some perfectly symmetrical crossings:

And here's Benjamin trying to convince himself to dunk his entire body in the water (he eventually did, but it took some doing because that water is cold):

Here's Benjamin, Zoë, and Miriam, once again looking rather symmetrical on these rocks:

And here's silly Alexander:

Rachel was such a sweet shadow for him. She got to do quite a bit of her own splashing about, but she also was my hands-on helper, holding Alexander's hand across rocks while he followed the bigger kids, and so forth. It was nice to have an extra pair of hands, since I was holding the baby.

Here are my boys playing fetch (Alexander would throw the stick into the river, Benjamin would retrieve it):

And here are my sweet girls dangling their feet in the water:

Here's Rachel helping Alexander pick his way across the rocks:

Here's Alexander back to splashing around my ankles again (and Phoebe's awake now):

Here's Zoë with some very muddy feet after she discovered some mud that seemed to want to slurp her up:

Alexander joined her in the mud and ended up having one of his shoes—his brand new water shoes that he got in his Easter basket and which were out for their inaugural water run—slurped right off his foot. Admittedly, the shoes are a teensy bit big for him. But still! We were so sad to lose his shoe!

He cried and cried as we pondered what to do. The little wading area was too turbid to see the bottom. We could wait for the water to settle, but who knows if we'd even be able to see his shoe then, anyway. And then if we entered to look for it again, all the mud would get stirred up again, anyway. So we did the only logical thing: I made the kids dredge the wading pool, walking in planned out lines, feeling along the bottom for anything shoe-like. 

And it worked! Benjamin was our most efficient dredger and he found a lovely little board that had been saturated with water (and which he kept to pretend it was a submarine), as well as Alexander's shoe.

Alexander was so relieved and grateful he said, "Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you," most sincerely and then kept muttering his thanks for the next half hour or so.

At dinner when we asked what his favourite part of the day was he said, with a wobbly voice, "Not losing my shoe!"

By the time Alexander was reunited with his shoes, the river had lost some of its appeal for him and everyone was wet and cold, so we packed up and headed over to the now-empty playground for a bit (it was super crowded when we arrived but mostly empty as we were leaving).

Miriam took a turn packing Phoebe around (she's been wanting to try baby-wearing for a while):

Lastly we took a little hike on the trail, exploring all the changes—because the woods are always changing—from the last time we took the trail (like this tree that fell across the path; that's new):

It was a good little outing, and it left the house nice and quiet for Andrew's (bummer of a) faculty meeting (wherein they discussed recent changes to tenure, which doesn't really exist anymore...but you still have to get it or be fired...but also if you get can still be fired...and no one is quite sure how to implement the policy or what it will mean in the long run's fine).

1 comment:

  1. This was such a fun post...until you got to that tenure part, and I clicked on that word and got somewhat disturbed...