Gosh, look how much she’s grown. That first picture on the left is from January 10th, when Calla was about 8 1/2 months old. The picture on the right is from our hike today on the Mountains to Sea Trail and Calla just turned 15 months yesterday. It is one thing to hear other parents talk about how fast their kids are growing up, and then another to experience it in person. It’s even crazier to look back at pictures and try to remember your child that small. It’s tough.
Having Calla has helped me, no really forced me (but in a good way), to live absolutely in the present. There is no such thing as a concrete plan anymore, and every outing always requires at least the unspoken mom buffer rule of give or take 15 minutes. So these days with our busy, busy lives, I bask in the time we get to spend outdoors in all this green splendor that is the Appalachian Mountains insanely biodiverse ecosystem. I have fallen in love all over with the bountiful shade these woods serve up, and love leaning to the side to let Calla touch all the many different types of trees and finger their rough and smooth barks. My heart explodes when she squeals at successfully pulling half a leaf off a branch and coveting it inside her carrier to explore further.
All these moments I crave more of. I feel as though the simple timing of life has robbed us a little of our adventurous ways (despite the occasional excuses we have found to stay busy and not do what we love most). In Colorado while Calla was still under 6 months we got out walking quite a bit, but then the flooding in September prevented us from hiking anymore before we officially moved back East in November. After we finally settled in Asheville, the brisk bite of air in winter was often our next reasoning as to why hiking wasn’t appropriate, although we still ventured out from time to time. Come early Spring we got a decent amount of hiking in, with longer distances and all, until around 10 months when Calla started walking. I believe if we had known that she was going to move into mobility that soon that we would have made it a priority to go camping. But nonetheless, here we are at 15 months since she was born and not one camping experience yet.
Camping will never be what it used to be for David and I. There, I admitted it. And now I feel a little sad and sometimes here recently feel myself mourning our pre-baby adventurous lifestyle. When I compare pre-baby peaceful camping/backpacking of sitting around the campfire, the sweet smell of woodsmoke infusing our clothes and hair, and devouring high calorie foods after a long rolling hike, my thought bubble is abruptly poked and squashed by my spunky, curly-haired toddler who then promptly runs away to find the next fun thing. No more campfires, as she will surely just willingly jump into it out of innocent curiousity. No more peace and philosophical chatting around that same non-existent fire because instead I’ll be chasing her around the campsite making sure she doesn’t touch that poison ivy plant, or climb on top of these really sharp rocks, or just simply doesn’t run away, because she loves to wander freely forever. When I think of these things I have a difficult time talking the logistical side of me into just doing it to see what it would be like.
So today as we were rolling along our impromptu hike this morning, I told David, “no more excuses. We just have to do it!” So I hope he holds me to it. I refuse to let my logical side talk me down from getting out there because all the other sides of me need to be immersed in absolute nature again. I want Calla to look back on pictures and know that her love of nature all started because she was brought out to explore nature and began camping before she was two. At least I am on the right track, as for the last couple of months I’ve been surrounding myself with inspiration from other mamas in the new Hike It Baby Asheville group. May I finally throw the what if’s to the wind and just do it. Why yes, yes I will.