Tag Archives: childhood builds character

Hiking with grandchildren can be a lot of fun!

Hiking With Grandchildren

Hiking with grandchildren is a fun experience. In my case the girls are ages 9 and 12, independent and responsible, fun in a group of hikers. They prepare and carry their own day packs. They walk at a steady pace, actually faster than their grandmother. They have been hiking for a few years. Several years ago they climbed Mount Morgan, last year Mount Madison, and this year another 4,000’ mountain, so they are already accomplishing great goals. The girls are Morgan and Madison—no wonder they climbed mountains with the same name! In fifth grade, Morgan climbed Mount Morgan a second time, on a field trip with her class.

When they hike with me, they keep me so occupied by playing mental games that any challenges or tiredness is hardly noticed. They sing and try to teach me their favorite songs, until they give up and go on to something else more stimulating to them. The time flies by. They are nature bugs and they are the first to spot a frog or turtle on a log. They like to identify tracks of animals and surprise me when they point out a tree and say “That’s a maple” or “white pine” or “oak.” One will recite poems she has created, and the other sings songs she is practicing for chorus. It is a great way for me to keep up with their current interests. I try to remember to focus on the roots and rocks under foot, and on we tread down the path, merrily entering life in the forest. Other times we tread silently, listening for signs of nature to identify: perhaps a woodpecker, a blue jay, or chick-a-dee.

From the time they were born, they were carried on their parents’ backs, and on occasion I carried them while snowshoeing or walking on trails. We live near a state park, and the reward for a walk was going to one of the playgrounds there, with a mini picnic lunch or treat. Sometimes we would canoe one way and walk back, if someone offered to assist with transportation. They like to camp and that includes short hikes and nature walks.

They have traveled in many areas of our country and in foreign countries, too. Travel and family incentives to enjoy nature have encouraged us all to stay physically fit, and hiking is a pleasant way to do it. They are great company, and I plan to enjoy many more years of hiking with them in the future.

(posted October 20, 2015)

Although Aunt Doris traveled around the world, she never forgot her Maine home and family.

Visiting My Grandmother: Part Four

Going to my grandmother’s house was special because my grandmother was so loving and my Aunt Flossie was so much fun. It was a happy place. I had another aunt, Doris, who lived in Oregon and came home each summer for two or three months. Ever since she married and went west, she vowed she would come east to help take care of her mother, and she did. She came by car, by train, and by plane over many years—really a long lifetime.  She lived to the age of 96.

Aunt Doris was the oldest of my father’s siblings; he was the youngest and he thought the world of her. Sometimes she and her husband (Uncle Fred) would drive across the country and he would visit for a few weeks before flying to see his family in England. Those times were great because both would take me on day trips when my parents were too busy and I would have them to myself.

Aunt Doris and Uncle Fred had met after college, married, and soon moved to Oregon. They owned a business and many of their associates were international. When they retired in the 1950’s, they took a year and went around the world to visit their many friends. As a young child of rural Maine, I thought this was pretty amazing. As often as possible we would sit on the porch in old rocking chairs, she telling her stories while I listened, as if on a magic carpet ride. She also liked to write and recite poetry.

My grandmother could cook, Aunt Flossie had all the animals to tend, and Aunt Doris would be the organizer. Each time I would come walking through the woods and hurry onto the porch there would be lots of activity. The dog would greet me; the folks all stopped their chores and greeted me. Sometimes rooms were getting a good cleaning, or a new car had been purchased. Sometimes all three were canning vegetables from the garden. They were always busy from dawn to dusk. They were cheerful and never an unkind word was spoken. They were happy, thoughtful people.

It was always sad to see Aunt Doris leave in the fall. During the winter our family would receive letters, a few phone calls, and a big package of holly to share at Christmas time. She always took care of her mother throughout the year. The support was very noticeable.

Aunt Doris loved her roots of Maine. After I graduated from college I went to visit them in Oregon. They had a lovely home and were a happy couple, but in her heart she never forgot how she cared about her family and childhood home back in Maine. These three women made a difference in my life. I was blessed to know them.

-August 5, 2014

This photo of Aunt Flossie with her great-niece and nephews was taken many years later.

Visiting My Grandmother: Part Three

My Aunt Flossie, who lived with my grandmother, loved animals and kept an assortment of them at this small country farm. My grandmother tended her chickens, but Aunt Flossie always had a dog, several cows, sometimes a spring calf, and later a horse and a pony. She also had a spring lamb.

We had a larger farm property but we kept no animals. Therefore, going to my grandmother’s house was very exciting for me. As soon as I found out she had a new-born lamb, I would hurry through the woods to feed the lamb a bottle of milk. This would only last a little while before the lamb went out to pasture and didn’t need a bottle any more.

Aunt Flossie had a turkey for a few years. During this time I would be given a turkey egg on a rare occasion, as sharing with other relatives was only fair. My mother would fry up this egg and it filled a plate.

Occasionally my aunt made homemade ice cream as a treat, but it took a lot of cranking on the wooden tub before it was ready. Sometimes I would make butter with Aunt Flossie. Sometimes we would pick berries to can or make jam. She made wonderful pickles.

Aunt Flossie worked as a weaver in a woolen mill for many years. She had a car for transportation but often chose to walk to and from work, which was several miles. For all the hard physical work she did she was still a beautiful, graceful woman.

She wore her long hair up in a bun, had a fair complexion, and sparkling blue eyes. She usually wore jeans and a shirt made by my grandmother who was a great seamstress. It was a rare occasion that Aunt Flossie went shopping, but with my mother’s coaxing and assistance she would be the most stunning person at the fancy event such as a wedding.

Flossie was an early riser and was always doing something from morning to night. In early spring she tapped maple trees for sap and boiled the sap on the kitchen stove for maple syrup. She canned a number of quarts each year.

She was a good cook and I liked to eat over at her place. Aunt Flossie took care of me when my parents went away on business trips—it was always a treat to stay overnight or for a few days.  She was loving and kind and helped many people in the community.

She lived to be 96 and took ownership of the farm when my grandmother passed away. My adventures with Aunt Flossie were different than my life at home and so I treasured those special memories.

-July 29, 2014