FatherSon Ventures

Building a Relationship through Adventure

Into the Wild

Written By: Scot Butwell - Oct• 07•12

into wild photo
A few days before the weekend, I enter into negotiation with the Wife, hoping to extend the five-mile radius for our father-son adventures, suggesting a hike at a local nature preserve.

The nature preserve is a few miles beyond my “unofficial” boundary, only five minutes from a park D and I visited a week ago, and a chance for us to visit the natural habitat of wildlife.

The conversation with the Wife goes surprisingly well. We each state our viewpoint and listen respectfully to what the other says, a huge departure from our typical communication.

Her peaceful tone even gives me a fleeting hope, but then the Wife decides to invite herself on the hike, and our father-son adventure is squashed.

Just like that.

ballona wetlands

And less than five minutes on the hiking trail, the Wife and I enter one of our “typical” discussions, and by this I mean it is clear from her tone that this will be a one-sided discussion.

The topic: should our son ride on my shoulders?

I’ve noticed statements with the word “should” rarely align with reality. Case in Point: I know D should be walking on his own two feet, but I see no reason to deny him this pleasure.

Nevertheless, I agree with the Wife so we can enjoy nature free of conflict. As a wise person once said, it takes two persons to argue. And my memory of past conflicts with the Wife is too strong.

ballona flower2

The hike does not turn out how I envisioned, but it isn’t the Wife’s fault. I read Yelp reviews of the wildlife we might see in the preserve: long-necked snowy egrets, finches, spotted doves, swooping hawks, rabbits, ducks, etc.

I googled pictures of the birds and showed them to D, creating an image in my head (and probably his) of the two of us passing binoculars back and forth and looking at exotic birds.

But we see none of the birds we looked at on the computer. Not one. A few days later, my nerdy friend Jose tells me the birds come out in the morning or in the late afternoon for feeding.

A mile from the trailhead, we reach an a fence crossing the trail. “Beware of Rattlesnakes,” a sign says with a picture of one. There are no rattlesnakes in sight, but the Wife snaps at me for my calm response.

So we make a u-turn. The Wife decides to hike ahead of us, and I recap the hike in my head:

The Wife freaked out when she thought a bug may have landed on her. She snapped at D for veering slightly off the trail. There was our one-sided conversation on D riding on my shoulders. And the rattlesnake sign–all interrupting the chance to enjoy nature in quiet solitude. 

I know. I should be understanding of my wife’s fears, accept that she gets edgy in nature. I should realize her temperament is different than mine, and after fifteen years of marriage, I should be gracious towards her being more prone to anxiety than me.

But on the trail I keep thinking how my hope has been that nature would have the restorative effect John Muir described in his book The Mountains of California  on hiking in the Yosemite Valley:

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their freshness into you…while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”

That’s what I wanted to experience. I wanted nature to blow its freshness into me. I wanted to feel nature’s peace. I wanted all my cares to fall off…like autumn leaves. I wanted us all to feel nature’s peace, and for its freshness to blow into each of us.

But that’s not what happened.

However, as the Wife hiked ahead of us, D and I enjoyed nature in solitude, neither of us talking, both of us just being together, and not being excited or anything, and nature blowing its freshness and peace into both of us.

We even saw our first wildlife at the trailhead: a blue and green peacock, strutting with its feathers spread out. The peacock was in the middle of the trail, and after seeing no wildlife, it looked like an animated bird from a movie.

D started making silly noises, and I added my own funny sounds, and we both laughed as the peacock stared at us, like we were the strange-looking creatures. It was the perfect end to our hike.


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One Comment

  1. A round of applause for your blog post.Really thank you! Fantastic.