A hike was the perfect order of the day. The boys were excited about the idea. It would be a good workout and it would be good to be together.
We planned to leave immediately after lunch. I noticed Daniel, who will be ten in November, and Wes, who will be seven in December, scramble for their gear. They had spent the morning pouring over outdoor outfitter catalogs looking at sophisticated equipment that would be sufficient to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail.
I thought back over the years to the hours I spent with my official Boy Scout handbook. I was disgusted to remember that I spent more time reading about nature than I spent experiencing it. That's when I said, "Guys, let's just use the daypacks we have and take a nice hike this afternoon." They say the smallest deed is better than the grandest intention. The boys heartily agreed.
Immediately after lunch we made for the trailhead. Chuck joined us and led the expedition. The little guys fell in on the trail ahead of me with their full daypacks, slouch hats, and bottles filled with water. They soon found walking sticks. I laughed as I watched Wes lurching along the trail ahead of me struggling with all his gear. He shuffled along behind his brothers careful not to drop behind. Not a syllable of complaint escaped his lips.
We climbed to the crest of a hill up earthen stairs built into the hillside. Finally, I asked Wes if I could carry the pack for a while. He smiled quietly and handed the thing to me.
The guys hiked quietly trying to "leave no trace." The air was sweet with the scent of autumn. Goldenrod nodded yellow along the trial. We crossed a footbridge over a stream that ran among small boulders. At one point, we came to the edge of the wood overlooking acres of corn ripening in an undulating field.
I kept Wes's pack and finally asked him, "What's in the pack, Wes?" "A calculator," he said. I thought I misunderstood him. I thought maybe trail mix, some apples, or maybe even some jerky would be good things to put in the pack. Maybe he packed a field guide, field glasses, or the writings of Thoreau. Any of these would have made sense, but Wes said, "A calculator."
"What else did you put in here, Wes?"
"It's kinda heavy, Buddy. Did you put some books in here, too?" "No, just the calculator."
He insisted the only thing the pack contained was a calculator. Then it hit me what he meant by a calculator. He was talking about the huge desktop adding machine that had been underfoot at home for the last few weeks! It was complete with a power cord and a roll of paper. I was trekking the wide outdoors with an adding machine in my backpack.
"Why did you put an adding machine in your pack?"
"I just wanted something in my pack," he said.
Kids are fun and full of surprises. I chuckle within every time I think of it and I am reminded what a priceless thing it is to have a little boy to hike with.
It's better to live than waste your precious life watching other people pretend to live on television.
It's good to be alive, and there are people out there who want your love. Get out and do something with the family. Spend time with the people who love you while you still can. Visit, ride bikes, stroll the beach, walk the dog, get some pictures, go out for coffee and pie, or go to church.
If you can't think of anything better to do, throw an adding machine in a backpack and hit the trails.
Four friends, who hadn't seen each other in 30 years, reunited at a party. After several drinks, one of the men had to use the rest room. The first guy said, "My son is my pride a
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