This morning we were up an at ’em early to get out on the trail before everyone else. The excellent weather forecast meant the trails would get busier and busier as the day went on.
Our entire family was a little more quiet than usual on the trail today. I’m not sure if it was the early hours, the perfectly calm and still weather, or if we were all just appreciating nature a little extra. Regardless, we all enjoyed the time together and the time outside.
Much of the reason for my moments of quiet were memories of Dad. They started when we left the parking lot and walked along the road where we once walked with Dad. It wasn’t even anything that exciting or anything when he was there walking with us but for some wonderful reason that memory has firmly taken hold. The walk on that same place got my brain thinking about that time together.
As we walked along the shore a movement caught my eye and then we were taking time to enjoy watching a muskrat chilling. After watching for a little bit we continued on our way. We talked about my memories of trapping with Dad. Those early mornings out on the still water in the cool air were so similar to this morning.
There were a couple of times when we dropped into valleys that I thought of my times being out in the woods with him. Sometimes it felt like a chore, other times I liked it only because I knew he liked it, and eventually I understood why he found such peace in nature. The thoughts in my brain weren’t focused on work or what I need to do, rather they were focused on listening to the sounds of wildlife, watching for animal tracks, smelling the leaves, and viewing the beauty of each unique tree. I often caught myself looking at or pointing out the same things Dad did when we would spend time out in the woods.
After my Grandpa Kreiling passed away I remember Dad taking a long walk in the woods to spend time with him. Back then it seemed so strange to me, now I totally understand. As I I walked today there were more than a few times when I swear I could feel his presence with me. Wishful thinking, happy memories, or something else? I really don’t care. The sense of peace and love it brought filled my heart.
Towards the end of the hike (yes Nick, it was a hike, not a walk) my ears caught a very unusual sound. I froze and slowly scanned the area around me. Somehow we’d almost walked right past a nest of garter snakes! There were at least four slowly moving as they warmed in the sun and another a little later. If there was a time when I wished Dad was right there with me it was at that moment. Dad HATED snakes – they were about the worst thing in the world according to him. I chuckled out loud as I thought about the sound and action Dad would’ve made had he been right there. In my mind’s eye I could see him jump, shiver, and shake his head as he backed away as quickly as he could. It would have been hysterical!
Later in the day I spent time in my workshop. When I was about to try something new to fix a project I was working on I asked him if it was a good idea. There was no answer so I figured why not try it. In less than 2 seconds my project was completely destroyed and I caught myself laughing. If Dad were around I know how hard he would have been laughing when I told him the story. Not only could I hear his laughter as the planer splintered my project but I could also hear his voice almost giggle as he shared the story of the first time he’d made the same mistake. Whoever would’ve thought I would feel so much joy and love from something I’d put a lot of time into being totally destroyed?
Why made the day all the more special was that the memories of Dad enhanced my day with Gavin. Dominic was a little more quiet and distant today so I gave him the space he wanted and joked around with him when he was into it. Gavin was seemingly in his normal outgoing, upbeat, positive and high energy mode and I rolled with it.
On our hike we shared stories about being out in the woods. At one point he gave me a hard time about being old and then out of nowhere got kind of serious. “You know Dad, I have to give you a hard time about being old now because when I have sons one day they’ll give me a hard time about being old and you’re going to laugh about it… just like Grandpa Pete is doing every time I give you a hard time.” So true, bud, so true. We talked about what we were seeing, some nature stuff, joked around, and just talked. In doing so I realized that it was very much like Dad and I used to do in the woods.
While I was spending so much time reflecting on my memories of Dad I couldn’t help but smile as I realized I might be helping to create some of those memories for Gavin. My heart was filled even more as I thought of him walking out in the woods with me when he’s older. I remember Dad talking about the time in the woods with Grandpa so fondly. I have such awesome memories of Dad while we were out in the woods. I hope Gavin and I continue to build the same for him just as Dominic and I have done as well.