I talk a big game about taking kids outside. I’ve only been doing it for a year now, and life has changed –we go to bed earlier, schedule activities around naps and switch hikes midstream if necessary — but so far we’ve made it work. We’ve taken our daughter fishing on the North Platte and backpacking in the Bighorns. She’s been turkey hunting in the Black Hills and ice fishing on Boysen Reservoir.
But many of these things are doable and easy because I live in a state where the sun shines 363 days of the year. On the coldest snowy days, we just bundle her up.
This year’s hunting season was different. It rained. A lot. Camping and spending time on a muddy forest floor with an active toddler is a separate game than frolicking on a sunny 60-degree day.
I don’t know what to do in the rain. Rain isn’t my thing. I hunker down in the rain. I can fish in the rain, but you’re really wet already. We turkey hunt in the rain, but I don’t like it. How are you supposed to keep a small person who is not yet walking relatively dry and moderately mud free? It is, in fact, as hard as it sounds, especially when the closest thing to rain gear I have is a lovely white snowsuit covered in forest animals.
The thing is, Miriam, isn’t content just hanging out in the vehicle, or in a tent. She wants to see things — collect pinecones, stack rocks, pick up sticks. It’s a quality I admire, and I hope she keeps it for her life. But in the mud? It’s not handy.
We tried playing in the bed of the truck, which held her attention for as long as she was interested in eating the Cheerios I hid.
After about 10 minutes she wanted out.
I put her in her backpack and carried her around. That didn’t help her pleas to move.
I read to her in the tent until she insisted we leave.
So I put her on the ground in that white snowsuit with adorable animals on it and held her hands as we walked down the two-track road. Eventually the sticks and rocks and pinecones proved too enticing. She wanted to play with them.
We could have left, loaded up and driven to town. But in that moment, as the rain stopped and sun peaked out, I let Miriam, and the mud, win.