The old adage, “Less is more” has grown truer in my eyes with each passing year; it seems to apply to so many aspects of life. Parenting is a prime example – sometimes I try so hard to plan something special for my kids and for some reason it doesn’t seem to resonate. On the flip side, sometimes I hardly make plans at all and they have a grand old time.
With my parents visiting this week from Edmonton, we decided to take a leisurely trip to Gatineau Park. My folks have walked Gatineau’s Pink Lake trail with us numerous times, and we have also visited the Mackenzie King Estate. This time, we spontaneously decided to take them to Meech Lake. We grabbed our water bottles and a few hastily-prepared snacks and hit the trail.
A short walk from the parking lot (be warned: the parking fee is a hefty $10), my parents stopped under a massive tree. My dad noticed that something seemed to be raining down on us; upon further investigation we identified a hungry squirrel high above us – devouring acorns and throwing the shells down on our heads. My daughters thought this was absolutely hilarious, and stooped down to pick up the cast-off acorn shells for inspection (and collection in daddy’s backpack).
Further up the trail, we crossed over a small bridge that offered up some great inter-generational photo opps for our girls and their grandparents. My kids are not always keen to pose for pictures, but I find they are more likely to cooperate if they are having fun in an outdoor setting as opposed to sitting on a boring couch in the living room. My mom – who is an avid painter – also took a few scenic photos that may provide future artistic inspiration.
As we continued along, my parents pointed out an excellent climbing tree. I couldn’t fight my inner child; in no time I was shimmying my way up the tree trunk to the first large branch. Unfortunately, my husband took a Blackberry video of this procedure in progress and it would seem that I’m not nearly as graceful a climber as I had envisioned myself to be (I have forbidden him from making the footage public upon threat of a painful death). Nevertheless, I made it up to a branch about 12 feet off the ground. I enjoyed my vantage point momentarily before the panic set in that I didn’t know how to get down. Thankfully, my husband and my father were able to contain their laughter long enough to help me down. The kids, however, were quite fascinated to see their mom trapped in a tree.
The final memorable spectacle for the girls was a striking millipede – black with red stripes. After spotting it on the trail, we took the time to observe it, touch it and photograph it.
Back at home, my budding eight-year-old scientist/writer decided – of her own ‘accord’ – to make a book about her adventure. While it’s still a work in progress, I was delighted at the effort she put into her book cover – which featured a leaf rubbing from one of her collected specimens. Clearly, our excursion had made a big impression on her.
An outing with minimal planning = huge excitement for the kids. Less is more!