From remembering the departed to greeting the newly-arrived in 24 hours. It just took another cross-country plane flight and a six-hour drive in a car to hold for the first time my grandson Malik, re-unite with big sister Zadie and re-connect with older step-brother Alijah, now come to Portland from Providence for a taste of West-Coast life. Here we all are, my wife, two daughters and the above (sadly minus son-in-law Ronnie beginning a new school for Occupational Therapy), the Southern Oregon version of the annual time in Lake Michigan (too far and too expensive this year given all the circumstances). Sorely missing the lake (there is water in site, but way low with no beach and dead trees and riddled with goose poop), but the house is nice and we’ve found a couple of good hikes.
Today’s was to Hobart’s Bluff, with a spectacular 360 view that included Mt. Shasta in California. On his 6th week birthday, Malik had no problem strapped to various chests and Alijah seemed energized by the vast open spaces of the West so different from Rhode Island. But how to convince three year old Zadie that a hike was a fun way to spend the day?
It begins with euphenisms—“Let’s go exploring!”— expands to treats—“Anyone want a Cliff bar?” and escalates to fantasy—“There’s a dragon coming! Let’s run!!” Songs and stories on the trail help and short-term piggyback rides work as well. Fact is she did a great job ascending to the view and lunch spot a mile and a half. But now came the descent.
We hit on a brilliant strategy, shared to outdoorsy parents with small kids free of charge. Every time we reached a shady spot on the trail, Zadie got a grape. Then she was on the lookout for the next patch of shade. Shade, grape, shade, grape, a motivating rhythm got her on the move, supplemented by an occasional Pop-Pop leaf pop (one of my esoteric skills), and before we knew it, there we were.
Have fun “exploring” with the little ones. And don’t forget the grapes.