Our oldest came in the kitchen while I was fixing dinner last night (turkey burgers) and saw me sporting the new CRPA (Cowpasture River Preservation Association) hat that I got in the mail today.  She giggled and said, “Do you like your new hat, Daddy?”

 Yes, indeed I do.  These busy days have me pining over the leisure hours and days we spent tubing and canoeing down the Cowpasture River.  In my mind, I catch myself floating along the memories of Cowpasture River, remembering those times when the kids were all getting along, when we were problem solving and building bonds on the river.  I remember the joy on their faces when they discovered the toads on Toad Island.  All this takes me to a healthier spot - when I wasn’t overtaken by lesson plans and grading papers.  It seems to be a way that I am able to lower the blood pressure, just a bit.

Our children are starting to notice the passions of their parents.  They beg to have a chance to help with dinner, to have a chance to make up recipes just like their delightfully beautiful mother.  They ask for time to go jogging with us, time to go to Ashley’s soccer games.  And when they are really trying to get in good with me, they ask questions like, “When are we going hiking again, Dad?”  They see what brings us each joy and they seem to be looking for that in their own lives.  Ashley and I try really hard to get them to take a little quiet time everyday, just to themselves, as a time to regenerate and to renew.

  I have been reading from Richard Louv’s new book, The Nature Principle: Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder.  In the book, Mr. Louv has several chapters focused on the ways that a connection to nature can improve our health, our creativity and our quality of life.  It includes many examples of adults reconnecting with nature in an attempt to get their health back on track.

  With all the stresses of daily life, I need to remember my own need to experience the natural world.  I want my children to remember that I found joy in natural places, such as the Cowpasture River.  I want them to remember how important I felt it was to be connected with organizations such as the wonderful people of the CRPA (Cowpasture River Preservation Association).    Most importantly, I want them to know that I care enough to take care of myself so that I am around to be their daddy for as long as possible.

Late night nachos, mindless web searches and stressing over my school work are not helping with this.  However, each day I try to seek balance in the equation through jogging, relaxing with a book, getting more than 5 hours of sleep (a particular challenge) and eating well.  Ashley makes certain of the latter for me, like the beet salad and mozzarella and tomato dish she sent with me today! 

Here’s to more day to live, more joys to discover, green countryside and beautiful families who make it all worth it.  Tonight I’ll keep my hat on, thank you.  It will keep all the memories from escaping the way my hair has been lately.

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