I have the same favorite date with both of my daughters: a hike.
All that open space creates open conversation. She meanders, I ask a question. She collects rocks, tells stories.
Margot and I both wanted to get out, Andy and Ruby wanted to stay in. I asked her what we should do.
Ride bikes to the river and check it out!
We took off, her tiny frame so much bigger than it was last spring. She needs a new bike. Wow. She pedals standing up, gaining speed until she can glide and arabesque on her bright red bike with the bumblebee tattoo, the one we bought together yesterday or two years ago. She is growing her hair long and it spills out from under her helmet and drapes over her shoulders. She likes this and moves her head with exaggerated sweeps to hear hair bristle against her puffy coat.
She laughs like she always has but now there are two black spaces where teeth used to be.
Mom? I think I’d like to get my ears pierced when I am 17.
We reached the river front trail and peeled off down the slippery slope to the secret enchanted trail. She skipped ahead.
Mom! Hurry up! Come on!
I moved quickly to keep up, noticing her agility and confidence over roots and rocks. The river to our right, was loud. And then it grumbled louder and we both stopped. It wasn’t the river, but a forceful wind gust that shook the towering trees. Margot leaned into my leg, hooked her elbow around my knee.
It started raining and then pouring but we kept on ahead, running now. The trail ends at a small pool at river’s edge. Margot waded right in filling her boots with icy water, filling her chest with laughter. She selected a handful of rocks and stuffed a bag with river to bring home to Ruby.
The rain turned into snow and hail and back to rain, wind pushed tree limbs into a drunken sway. We started back, soaked now. We ran fast, blocking low-hung branches with our forearms and shins. Margot’s giggles in tandem with the wind and current. She carried the baggie of water with great care, hugging it to her belly or letting it jiggle with her jog. I fought my urge to warn her against her squeezing it open. She knew what to do.
We stopped to watch ducks. I buzzed with happiness. I think she did too. I asked if we could take a few photos. I had been snapping photos with my phone as I chased behind her. I was glad I brought it.
The storm was eery and angry when we reached our bikes. I shoved her bike into the trailer Margot hopped into the little pod, secure from rain and wind. I peddled hard, squinting into grapple. It felt like I was in an icy ticker tape parade. At home we changed and warmed by the fire, shared our adventure and the deflated baggie that lost its water on the ride home.
The storm blew out and sun blew up. Margot and I headed out to hike the hill.
Mom will you hold my hand while we hike up? I can totally run up by myself but sometimes I like to hold hands.