Monday, October 10, 2011

The Experiment - Day 29

It's the 2nd to last day of The Experiment where my 10-year-old daughter Rebecca assigns me tasks I must complete.

Yesterday, we drove up on the Blue Ridge Parkway, stopping first at Graveyard Fields. Peak color had pretty much passed at that elevation - or it never got that vibrant up there. It was hard to tell which. Rebecca wanted to hike right away, so we humored her for a bit, but after tromping over a couple quagmires, we turned back, reminding her that we wanted to spend most of our time at a section of the Shut-In Trail. We also stopped at one of the Mt. Pisgah parking lots to show Rebecca the little trail we had discovered a few days previously that leads to the top of the Buck Springs Tunnel. From that vantage point, the view is spectacular, and motorists approaching the tunnel can't help but wave at the people above them.

We then backtracked to the overlook a little south of Mt. Pisgah where we joined the Shut-In Trail. A few hickory trees showed some yellow color, and before long, we had reached the hairpin turn in the trail that partially encircles a magical little campsite cradled in a canopy of Mountain Laurel, Rhododendron and Chestnut Oaks. I announced it as "The Fairy Camp", and mentioned that this was one of the magic spots that came to mind when Rebecca first gave me the task of finding my special place. I lingered and listened to the trees and felt the mossy mound under my feet. I received the message that this was not destined to be my special place, but that the Earth appreciated my fondness for the spot.

Rebecca at the "Fairy Camp"
When we crawled into the little campsite, Rebecca instantly became morose. It was as if she had abruptly flipped an internal mood switch. We tried to draw her out to determine what was bothering her, but were unsuccessful. We coaxed a few smiles from her, but it soon became apparent that she was determined to stay unhappy, and remained so even after we left the campsite to head further down the trail.

As Rebecca dawdled and grumbled, I was getting frustrated, as was Beth. But I remembered Task #3: "Have Fun!" I decided that I wasn't going to allow my fun and happiness be dictated by someone else's mood. So I committed myself to enjoying the trail, the leaves and the cool moody weather - no matter what. This is especially noteworthy, because every year, I hold out high hopes for vibrant Fall color. So far this year, the colors have been pretty muted, but I refused to let myself be disappointed about it, choosing instead to appreciate the rusty, mellower hues that the trees offered. I was able to maintain my good cheer throughout the rest of the day - so much so that by dinner time, Beth and Rebecca started referring to me as "Mr. Zen".

I brought home more than 5 cool artifacts: a forked cherry twig, a patch of moss and many leaves, which I put in my computer scanner to capture while they were still fresh. Rebecca found a huge golden Sassafras leaf, so I asked her to pose for a photo with her hand on the leaf. It took a little art direction on my part, but I managed to get the photo I had envisioned. Thanks for humoring me, Rebecca!

After we came home, I finished painting the backside of my work shed - only one side left to go! It felt good to spend so much time outdoors yesterday - and I may play a little hooky and go up on the Blue Ridge Parkway again today before the wet weather arrives. I'm curious to see how the Fall color is on the way towards Mount Mitchell. And whether the color is vibrant or muted, I plan to enjoy to the fullest.

Here are today's tasks:

  1. Make a hand-made (no computer) Thank-You Card to someone for doing something for you or helping you out. Get creative and maybe pull out colored pencils or something. Use card stock.
  2. Write another poem (with pen and paper - no computer), about either a) waterfalls; b) Fall leaves; c) tree energy. The poem must be in ABAB format.
I'll let you know tomorrow how I did.

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