After a long weekend away with family in southern Connecticut, we stepped into our apartment and I felt totally overwhelmed. I forgot that we left it in a rush. Dishes piled in the sink. Toys and books all over the floor. The heat turned low, making our home feel cold. Not a warm welcome.
Since the weather was beautiful and we could clean up later, we loaded the dog and toddler in the car and headed to the local park.
We visited the animals first: the cow and mules, chickens and ducks, turkeys and sheep and donkey. Josh went for a run. We wandered, and gave the toddler lots of time to run and explore. And we went for a short hike before Josh took the two for one last animal visit while I sat and read a book.
Northwest Park is a local treasure. As I sat on the park bench, soaking up some February sun, I thought back to the last 16 months of bringing our daughter to this park.
As a newborn, being pushed in the car seat stroller attachment. A walk to see the animals. A break for me. Worried about every little bump on the dirt road and grass as we showed you cow says moo, sheep says baa.
As a five month old, when spring was arriving and I yearned for more exercise. So many mornings I'd drive you and Maple to the park, snuggle you in the carrier, and hike in the woods to get you to nap. On the days when you forced those eyes awake, I'd whisper as we'd walk: nap nap nap nap, sleep sleep sleep sleep. The words worked. You slept as Maple and I romped on the trails.
Nearing one year old, much more aware of the world, especially animals. I'd walk you to the them while you sat in your stroller. You'd sit, waving, watching, completely in awe and often chatting back. Especially to the chickens.
After turning one, you'd stand and grip the fence with your chubby hands, staring at the animals. Such a better view at ground level.
And now, to enter the park I sling you into the carrier, but as soon as we hit the long stretches of grass beside the farm animals, I set you down. You walk, you run, you stomp on mud and pick up oak leaves. How you love this newfound freedom.
This is your park. Gosh, how you've grown.