A Walk in the Woods

This morning was gorgeous. We left the windows open overnight and as such, our house was filled with outdoor morning sweetness—chirping birds and cool breezes.

The children’s attitudes, however, were less than gorgeous. There was whining and crying, and fit-throwing when Andy left for work.

In my mind, I couldn’t understand how they could be so cranky when so much outside beauty was pouring through the tiny holes in our window screens. I knew this line of thought was unreasonable but still, I was irritated.

So, I decided to immerse them into the beauty of the day in way I haven’t yet attempted with all three of them by myself.

“We’re going hiking,” I said.

Their moods instantly improved.

We went to Tower Park, only a couple minutes from our house. I knew they had trails there as we, as a family, had walked some of them during Fort Thomas’s annual jack-o-lantern walks. But we had never hiked them on our own.

The kids loved it. They pointed out everything—mud, sticks, different leaves, bugs, squirrels, the sound of an owl.

And then, we spotted them—two beautiful deer watching us, perched on a ridge just above us. (I failed to bring my camera and was only able to capture sunlight with my phone.) The kids were quietly ecstatic, trying their hardest to be quiet so as not to scare the deer away.

We continued hiking and like something out of a children’s book, the deer followed us, we down below, they on the ridge above.

We walked through the woods for a good half hour, which was about the time I started to wonder if my assumption that the trail would loop was, perhaps, incorrect. I called Andy. He tried to figure out where we were on the trail map. I told him where we started. He said that was impossible, according to the map. So the four of us turned around, walking back the way we came.

Sophie led the way, yelling back to us every time she encountered something we might want to know about.

“Here’s a rock bridge!”


“Balance on this tree root!”


“Don’t step in that mud puddle!”

James fell on a rock once. Owen forgot to watch out for that mud puddle and ended up with a mud-soaked sandal. Sophie loved to lean precariously over edges while I fretted.

It was perfect.

Parenting ruts are so easy to fall into—especially in later summer when there is no school and vacation has come and gone. But then, a morning like this morning happens. A morning when you discover a treasure in your own backyard, in your own little town, in our own little world, previously unknown.

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” —John Muir