This post originally appeared on the Nashua Patch site, on October 17, 2011,
I was out hiking with my 6-year-old son this weekend at Beaver Brook in Hollis, NH. It was a perfect fall day to be out, and we walked well into the woods and around the pond on a 2 ½ hour trek. While we were out, we learned a few lessons about finding the fascinating in both the unusual, and the ordinary.
Just a few minutes into our hike, we saw a couple taking pictures. Not of the wildlife or the trees, mind you, but the man was taking pictures of the girl – who was wearing a bright pink dress amidst all the brown, gray and green of the forest. While that was a bit unusual, it was nothing so out of the ordinary as to be bizarre. Clearly, there was some beautiful scenery here and the contrast of the girl with her long, blonde hair and pink dress probably made for some great photographs.
My son, even at age 6, is very interested in performing and creativity, especially on stage & screen. He also likes music and talks a lot about what a song means, and what the songwriter was thinking when it was written. He is learning piano this year, too, and we’ve talked about what it means to express something through song, and not just play the notes. So, once we were past the couple taking pictures, we stopped a bit and I told him, “To just about anyone, all they saw was a girl in the woods in a pink dress. A storyteller, however, might say something like,
I went to the woods, on a lovely Autumn day, to stroll the paths and clear my thoughts. When I saw, there, floating above the path – a fairy girl with long, flowing hair.
He liked that, so I talked to him a little bit about inspiration, and how artists take simple, ordinary things and change them in such a way that they become beautiful, or fantastic, or sometimes just to make you think about things in a different way.
As we strolled along, we enjoyed the scenery and the delight of choosing which fork to take when the path split, or just watching the geese float on the water, or the water itself run down the hills to empty into the pond. We seemed to be enjoying the amazing simplicity of it all, and using not just our imaginations, but our powers of observation to absorb every bit of it.
Near the end of our hike, we came across two teen-age boys, who were moping along, trailing their family by 100 yards or so, and talking loudly while throwing a tennis ball back and forth. In the way of adolescent boys, they were oblivious to anything happening around them, and seemed to be far more interested in the tennis ball than I anything else.
Boys will be boys, of course, and I’m not sure at what point a walk in the woods goes from fascination to obliviousness, but I hope to stave it off as long as possible. In every aspect of our lives, the seemingly boring things hold a world of possibilities. You just have to want to see it.